This week, we found out the San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was voted defensive MVP by his teammates and coaches. In his second year as a pro, and first one as a starter, Smith established himself as one of the most dominant players at his respective position.
He racked up 19.5 sacks in 2012, breaking records and setting career bests along the way.
The 49ers have so many worthy players of this recognition though, which makes the honor even more special for Smith. It got me thinking who would be deserving of the most valuable vote on the offensive side of the football. There have been a number of contributors that have really helped push this unit to another level.
Let's quickly break some down candidates:
Colin Kaepernick: This is one of the obvious choices for offensive MVP. He was the final piece that really lighted a fire under this unit. He's been able to provide dynamism from the QB position while utilizing his corps of weapons on offense. His athleticism has also allowed the team to open up the playbook. Now, the 49ers are a threat to score 30 and 40 points a game.
Frank Gore: He has been the heart and soul of this offense since 2005. Even though he's always been incredibly talented, this is the first time he's been able to experience team success like this. For so many reasons, this Super Bowl run should be about him. For the sixth time in his 49ers career, Gore went for over 1,000 yards on the ground. Through thick and thin, he has been the one constant for this team.
Offensive Line: At the end of the day, this group makes it all possible. From left to right, this line is cohesive and dominant. They've unofficially been proclaimed the best line in the league by many experts -- even John Madden as of recent. Joe Staley and Mike Iupati were named first-team Pro Bowlers, with Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone and Anthony Davis as alternates. They play extremely well together and are fluid in this offensive scheme. As protectors and road graders, they are atop the league.
Michael Crabtree: Crabtree took his game to new heights in 2012. In his fourth year, No. 15 was targeted a team-high 127 times; Vernon Davis was second with 61. Crabtree had his first 1,000 yard season and finally showed this league he's capable of producing like a No. 1 WR. And outside of his statistics, he's been an incredible blocker on the perimeter. The run game receives a huge boost because of his unselfish efforts.
There are so many worthy candidates on offense. It just goes to show how far this team has come since Jim Harbaugh took over following the 2010 season. It goes without saying that these players -- individually and collectively -- are optimizing their talents in this new regime.
And though it's difficult to select just one, I've opened it up for discussion. Also, cast your vote for the 49ers offensive MVP in the poll below.