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Aldon Smith Named 49ers MVP

Posted Jan 28, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – As Aldon Smith faced the Super Bowl crush of media on Monday, the second-year star answered plenty of questions about the last five weeks.

The topic? His lack of sacks.

But that’s not to say the linebacker hasn’t been producing. In fact, Jim Harbaugh revealed on Monday that Smith’s coaches voted him the winner of the 2012 Bill Walsh Award, which honors the team’s Most Valuable Player.

“(It means) a lot because you have a lot of guys on this team who are all-stars, who have made Pro Bowls consecutively,” Smith said. “You have Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, I can go on. I come in my second year and I get the MVP, it means a lot.”

For the record, the 49ers featured a league-high nine Pro Bowlers in 2012.

The Bill Walsh Award, which was established in 2004, recognizes outstanding individual performance. Past winners include Bryant Young, Gore, Willis and Justin Smith, who won the award in 2011. Aldon Smith said it’s the first time he’s ever won a team MVP, dating all the way back to his high school and college days in Missouri.

While Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded a sack since he notched two in Week 13 against Miami, he and his coaches still noted the impact he has on the game.

“Even though you don’t have the sacks there, that low-hanging fruit, you always see the things that Aldon’s doing game in and game out,” Harbaugh said. “He’s playing at a very high level. That’s why we voted him Most Valuable Player.”

Just as his coaches haven’t lost any confidence in their versatile linebacker, he knows he’s still a high-impact player. When you record 19.5 sacks in the first 13 weeks of the season, teams will try to double-team you. While Aldon Smith might not be piling up the quarterback takedowns, he’s enjoying his disruptive role on the defense.

“I’m doing a lot of good things,” Aldon Smith said. “I’m creating a lot of pressure, I’m still making quarterbacks uncomfortable back there. Sacks are still happening. I might not be getting them, but we’re still getting sacks.”

Aldon Smith has had a historic start to his NFL career, racking up an NFL record 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons. His teammates knew the 49ers drafted a special player once he got on the field in 2011, but he ramped it up to another level in 2012.

Once veteran Parys Haralson suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, Aldon Smith thrived in his every down role. Aside from his constant quarterback pressure, Aldon Smith has also excelled against the run and in pass coverage this year.

“This year, everyone was questioning whether he could be an every down linebacker, and he showed it,” Said Gore, who won the Bill Walsh Award in 2006 and 2010. “He is one of the best at the position. He had a great year.”

The Super Bowl will be a showcase for the some of the greatest linebackers in the game. While the Ravens boast some of the league’s best in Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, the 49ers have a feared foursome that is arguably the top group in the league.

Aldon Smith, Willis and Bowman were all named to the Pro Bowl this season, while Ahmad Brooks is one of the NFL’s most well-rounded linebackers without the fanfare. Stout defense has been a staple of the 49ers under Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio over the past two seasons. For the linebackers, they take pride in being the men in the middle of it all.

“Every game starts with us as linebackers,” Bowman said. “We expect it to be like that; we don’t have a problem with it. Our work ethic speaks for itself. Our commitment to our team, to the game, to the preparation for the game speaks for itself. We like it to say it starts with us every single game.”

Aldon Smith has also benefitted greatly from playing behind four-time Pro Bowler Justin Smith. The Smith Brothers, as the 49ers Faithful like to say, have caused headaches for opposing defenses all year long.

Just as Justin spoke highly of his teammate on Sunday, Aldon returned the favor on Monday.

“Other than our last names being Smith and us going to Missouri, from the time I stepped into the NFL, he was the guy who helped me out with everything,” Aldon Smith said. “I worked out with him during the (2011) lockout and he helped me a lot just coming in my rookie year. Then on the field, we just work well with each other. We feed off each other. We have a rhythm that we just developed together.”

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