During today's session with the media, head coach Jim Harbaugh seemed a more relaxed and laid back compared to his usual self. It was good to see him in rare form as it allowed members of the media to fully explore all avenues during today's interview.
Of course Harbaugh had some interesting things to say about his kids playing football, President Obama and certain coaches he looks up to. Yet no tidbit of information caught my attention more than his comments about who the San Francisco 49ers named as team MVP.
Most teams will announce via Twitter or the team website who the players voted as its top rookie, MVP, etc. But since the 49ers' season has yet to conclude, there is still a bit of unfinished business to take care of come Sunday. So they had held off on announcing the team awards because of the current deep postseason run.
Whether he meant to or not, Harbaugh let it roll off his tongue that outside linebacker Aldon Smith was named team MVP by his teammates (via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee):
A definite honor considering there were plenty of worthy candidates to choose from. One could have easily made a case for Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree or Colin Kaepernick. Shoot, the players could have voted for Coach Harbaugh considering he was the one that made the decision to keep Kap in the lineup.
Regardless, Smith as team MVP made the most sense. He had one of the greatest pass-rushing performances in NFL history, tallying 19.5 quarterback sacks, 15 quarterback hits and 47 quarterback hurries.
No outside linebacker and player in the NFC accumulated more sacks than Smith. Moreover, he was on pace to top defensive end Michael Strahan for single-season sack record. Through 13 games he had reached 19.5 sacks, an average of 1.5 sacks per game.
Over the course of the final three weeks he went sackless. Many thought it was due to the absence of Justin Smith, yet many thought he hit a string of bad luck. After going back and reviewing the final three games of the season, I would chalk it up to bad luck.
Opposing quarterbacks were doing a good job of getting the ball out of their hands quickly and opposing offensive linemen often received extra help to keep Smith at bay. The same tactics have rang true during the playoffs as well.
However, that hasn't stopped No. 99 from imposing his will in other ways. During the divisional and conference championship round, he has garnered 12 quarterback pressures. Ten of those were hurries and the other two were quarterback hits.
When later asked about his team MVP vote, Smith said he voted for Randy Moss, according to Matt Barrows. Not the sexiest choice here, but easily justifiable. He brought a certain attitude, sense of leadership and mindset to this team that they could have been lacking in 2011.
Pro Football Talk reported that Moss does indeed want to play another season, but there is no guarantee San Francisco wants him back. He made $2.5 million in 2012 and it could be seen as a bit too much for a player who didn't contribute as much as the team had maybe hoped.
Also, rookie first-round pick A.J. Jenkins may have been brought along enough to warrant more playing time, which in turn would make the 35-year-old wide receiver expendable. A lot of tough decisions to make for a organization that will be tight against the cap in 2013.