49ers coaches name Justin Smith their MVP

December, 17, 2008
12/17/08
4:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Smith

Raise your hand if you thought Isaac Bruce would running on fumes after leaving the Rams for the 49ers. The man has defied reasonable expectations with six touchdown receptions, his most in a season since 2004, while bumping up his yards per catch.

Bruce's teammates recognized the 36-year-old receiver by naming him their most courageous and inspirational player, an award named after Len Eshmont, an original 49ers player.

Coaches voted defensive lineman/outside linebacker Justin Smith as team MVP. That's a strong endorsement given that Patrick Willis is already a perennial Pro Bowl player. I wouldn't read the MVP voting as slighting Willis in any way. Rather, it's a way to recognize a productive and consistent player whose efforts weren't recognized in Pro Bowl balloting

Center Eric Heitmann is the Bobb McKittrick Award winner as the 49ers' best offensive lineman, the third time in a row he's won the award named for the team's late line coach. Takeo Spikes won the defensive ironman award. Receiver Dominique Zeigler won the Thomas Herrion Award, named for the late lineman and given to players who have "taken advantage of every opportunity, turned it into a positive situation and made their dream turn into a reality."

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