- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Let’s wrap up the San Francisco 49ers' season that saw the team make it to the NFC Championship Game by giving some awards:
MVP: Linebacker NaVorro Bowman. He was dominant all season long. The inside linebacker took over nearly every game he played in. He was the engine of a strong defense. Obviously, the season ended sadly for Bowman. He suffered a major knee injury in the fourth quarter of the NFC title game. Of course, Bowman was hurt by making an outstanding play.
Offensive player of the year: Receiver Anquan Boldin. Acquired in a trade with Baltimore last March, Boldin has the key to the offense. He saved the offense when Michael Crabtree was out for the first 11 games of the season. Boldin continued to dominate when Crabtree came back. He came up with one important catch after another and had one of his best NFL seasons at the age of 33.
Defensive player of the year: Linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Bowman was the team’s best player, but Brooks wasn't far behind. He was a force both as a pass-rusher and as a run-stopper. A superb edge defender.
Rookie of the year: Safety Eric Reid. The first-round pick made the Pro Bowl after a season in which he showed he belonged from the first game. What sticks out about Reid was he looked like a five-year pro. The 49ers deserve credit for moving up from No. 31 to No. 18 to nab Reid.
Assistant coach of the year: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. What a supreme coach. His unit is top notch and a big reason is because it is so prepared. Fangio’s unit is always ready, no matter the challenge.
Play of the year: It has to be Bowman’s 89-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minutes to seal a win over Atlanta. Not only was that a tremendous play, which was set up by a deflected pass by cornerback Tramaine Brock, but it had enormous ramifications. The win clinched a playoff spot for the 49ers and it was the final game at Candlestick Park. What a way to send it out. No one in attendance will ever forget it.
Game of the year: The wild-card playoffs win at Green Bay. The game was played in temperatures that were around zero. The 49ers won the game as the clock expired on a Phil Dawson field goal. It was a total gut-check win.
Top newcomer: Maybe we should call this the defensive newcomer. Because we already recognized Boldin, we are going with defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. He was considered a bust after being the No. 5 overall pick by Kansas City in 2008. He was just OK with the Chiefs. But he came to San Francisco and flourished under Fangio and fit in with his defensive line mates.
Comeback player of the year: Crabtree tore his Achilles in May, but the 49ers' offense was instantly improved when he returned in December. He showed what a valuable member of the unit he is.
Most improved player: Brock. He went from being a special-teamer in August to finishing the season as the 49ers’ No.1 cornerback. He took advantage of injuries and answered every challenge. It earned him a four-year, $16 million contract extension.
Specialist of the year: Dawson. In his first season with the 49ers, Dawson was clutch and made countless big kicks. He was 32-of-36 on field goal attempts and he made 27 straight attempts at one point. He was part of a much improved special-teams unit.