Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/28/13
The Super Bowl is still almost a week away, but one member of the 49ers is already earning accolades. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed to Pro Football Talk on Monday that second-year outside linebacker Aldon Smith had been named the team’s most valuable player after a vote by San Francisco’s players and coaches. Though he was part of a star-studded Niners defensive unit that boasts six Pro Bowlers, few can argue the immense impact Smith had on his team. The 23-year-old ranked second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks this season — adding onto his impressive 14-sack rookie campaign — and also tallied 66 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception. Smith’s statistics have declined of late — he hasn’t recorded a sack since Dec. 9 — but Harbaugh is adamant that the backer’s impact has not diminished. In fact, PFT reports that Smith was awarded the game ball after San Francisco’s NFC Championship win over Atlanta despite having only one tackle. That theme of contributions beyond the stat sheet is further evident in Smith’s vote for team MVP: Randy Moss. The veteran wideout caught just 28 balls for 434 yards and three scores this season, but has been heralded as a leader in the locker room and mentor to Michael Crabtree and the Niners’ young receiving corps. Photo via Facebook/San Francisco 49ers
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