NEW ORLEANS -- The 49ers players and coaches voted linebacker Aldon Smith the team's most valuable player, coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday.
Smith set a franchise record with 19 1/2 sacks this season, all of them coming in the 49ers' first 13 games.
"There's a lot of guys that are good, there's a lot of guys that could have gotten that award," Smith said. "So, it's an honor."
Smith hasn't recorded a sack in the past five games. However, he still is finding ways to be effective, Harbaugh said.
To that end, Harbaugh 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.
Focusing solely on Smith's sacks is what Harbaugh calls "the low-hanging fruit," one of the things that is easy for people to see. Smith excels in all aspects of the game, Harbaugh said.
Fellow linebacker NaVorro Bowman said Smith was a logical choice as the team MVP.
"He's always doing his job," Bowman said. "That's pretty much an MVP. He's always doing his job, you don't really have to say too much to him and he's always producing. When we need a big play, he's always able to produce that. He's very worthy of that award."
Smith went from a role player his rookie season in 2011 to a starter this season. Making such a transition isn't the easiest thing to do, Bowman
"Playing a full 60-minute game in this league is very tough to do," Bowman said. "His first year, he wasn't an every-down guy. For him to take on that challenge this year, run with it and have the success that he's having just shows the type of guy he is. He definitely proved himself this year."