NEW ORLEANS -- Aldon Smith and Justin Smith dominated so much this season that they've each received prestigious awards from their 49ers teammates.

Aldon Smith's franchise-record 191/2 sacks helped earn him the Bill Walsh Award, given by players and coaches to the team's most valuable player.

Justin Smith, who often lines up next to Aldon Smith at right defensive tackle, won his second straight Len Eshmont Award. The team lists that as its "most prestigious" honor that is given annually to the player who exemplifies the "inspirational and courageous play" of Len Eshmont.

"Justin Smith is one of the greatest players to ever play in the National Football League," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He is a great talent, great character, great leader."

The 49ers players and coaches voted on their team awards last month when they were filling out their Pro Bowl ballots.

"There's a lot of guys that could have gotten that award, so it's an honor," Aldon Smith said Monday, shortly after Harbaugh announced Smith's MVP status in passing during a news-conference answer.

Aldon Smith hasn't recorded a sack in the past five games. However, he still is finding ways to be effective, said Harbaugh, who awarded Smith a game ball for his effort against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 20.

"He had a number of (quarterback) pressures and hurries, and he played the run extremely well," Harbaugh said.


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Running back Frank Gore said of Aldon Smith's selection: "He deserved it. This year, everyone questioned if he could be an every-down linebacker, and he's one of the best at his position."

Added linebacker NaVorro Bowman: "When we need a big play, he's always able to produce that. He's very worthy of that award."

  • Despite a report that he plans to request his release after the Super Bowl, backup quarterback Alex Smith is serving as an admirable tutor to Colin Kaepernick. "He coaches Colin now more than I do, and that speaks high of the kind of person and teammate that Alex Smith is," Harbaugh said.

    Smith will look to leave the 49ers after his eighth season, according to ProFootballTalk.com, which cited a "source with knowledge of the situation." The 49ers, however, also could trade or retain Smith. Smith has not publicly stated those intentions, nor has his agent, Tom Condon.

    Although Smith was seen at the team hotel Monday afternoon, he was not available for comment. Smith is in the first year of a three-year, $24 million contract he signed in March, and his $7.5 million salary for 2013 will be guaranteed if he's on the roster April 1.




  • Joe Montana expects the 49ers to win Sunday, and he'll be there to see it, only the second Super Bowl he will have attended as a fan. "I think the 49ers are going to win, but it's going to be fun," Montana told KNBR 680-AM on Monday, 23 years to the day after he won his fourth and final Super Bowl ring via the 49ers' 55-10 rout of the Denver Broncos at the Superdome.

    Kaepernick will be making only his 10th start as the 49ers quarterback since replacing Alex Smith. That switch was the 49ers' biggest since Montana and Steve Young set the standard for quarterback controversies 25 years ago.

    "I've been in that situation, and I missed a lot longer time," Montana said in reference to his 1991 elbow injury. "After (Smith) missing one game, I thought he'd be back in. No question, looking back on it, that was the right thing."

    Kaepernick is 25, the same age Montana was when he played (and won) his first Super Bowl with the 1981 team. Montana said his age never factored into his mentality, nor does he expect it to influence Kaepernick.

  • Wide receiver Randy Moss intends to play at least one more season, according to a ProFootballTalk.com report.