The San Francisco 49ers announced their 2016 team awards on Friday, and there were a couple particularly interesting decisions from the players and coaching staff. Each award has a different voting population, whether it be the players, some aspect of the coaching staff, and even media members.
On Friday, we discussed Colin Kaepernick receiving the Len Eshmont Award, which is viewed as the top player-voted award. The top coach voted award is the Bill Walsh Award. It serves as the team MVP award, and this year it went to left tackle Joe Staley. During the Trent Baalke era, the award has gone to (in reverse order) Phil Dawson, Antoine Bethea, Anquan Boldin, Aldon Smith, and Justin Smith.
There were few candidates for the award this year. Phil Dawson was in the running, but had some misses late in the season that might have cost him. Carlos Hyde was likely in the running too, but a season-ending injury cost him the final two weeks. Given how rough this year has been, Staley’s leadership likely played a pretty big role in him winning this award. The team could have easily turned on each other and things could have gone south in a hurry. Although the team struggled all season long, there were limited leaks about problems, and they went about their business like professionals. The organization needs to add serious talent to the roster, but they at least seem to have some quality built-in leadership that will be needed during the re-building process.
Here is a full list of the award winners. Congratulations to all!
Len Eshmont Award: QB Colin Kaepernick
The Len Eshmont Award is voted on by the players and is given to the 49er who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team. Eshmont, who coached at Navy and Virginia following his career in San Francisco, died in 1957. The award was established that year.
Bill Walsh Award: T Joe Staley
The Bill Walsh Award was established in 2004 in honor of San Francisco’s Hall of Fame Head Coach. Walsh served as the team’s head coach for 10 seasons from 1979-88. In that time, he compiled a record of 102-63-1 and led the team to three Super Bowls. He was twice named Coach of the Year (1981, 1984) and was later named Coach of the Decade for the 1980s. The award, which is voted on by coaches, is given to the 49ers team MVP, honoring his outstanding individual performance.
Bobb McKittrick Award: G Zane Beadles
The Bobb McKittrick Award is given annually to the 49ers offensive lineman who best represents the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the longtime offensive line coach, during his 21 years of service to the 49ers. The award was established by the 49ers in 1999, and is voted on by the offensive line.
Hazeltine Iron Man Award: S Antoine Bethea
The Hazeltine Iron Man Award is named for former linebacker Matt Hazeltine, a 13-year performer who played more seasons at linebacker than any other 49ers player. Known for his durability and dedication, Hazeltine passed away in 1987 from ALS, and Bill Walsh established the award in his honor that year. The award is given annually to the most courageous and inspirational defensive player as voted upon by the defensive coaches.
Thomas Herrion Memorial Award: DL DeForest Buckner
Thomas Herrion Memorial Award was established in 2005 by 49ers owners Denise and John York and is presented to a rookie or first-year player who best represents the dream of Thomas Herrion. The recipient has taken advantage of every opportunity, turned it into a positive situation and made their dream turn into a reality. The award is voted on by the coaches.
Perry/Yonamine Unity Award: S Antoine Bethea
The Perry/Yonamine Award is presented to the 49ers player who exhibits an exceptional commitment to promoting unity within the team and in their community. The Perry/Yonamine Unity Award is named for the former 49ers players and pioneers of unity and diversity, Joe “The Jet” Perry and Wally Yonamine, and is voted on by the players.
Community Relations Service Awards
Together, players from the San Francisco 49ers provided over 500 hours of community service during the 2016 season. Including the annual Pasta Bowl, 100 percent of the team participated in at least one community service event during the year. Top participants and winners of the Community Relations Service Awards were OL John Theus, who won the rookie player award, DT Quinton Dial, who was presented with this season’s veteran player award along with TE Garrett Celek, who won the 49ers NFL Salute to Service. Additionally, TE Vance McDonald, his wife Kendi and son Coman were the recipients of the family award. Dennis Brown was presented with the alumnus award for the sixth consecutive year.
Walter Payton Man of the Year Nominee: WR Torrey Smith
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, named after the late Hall of Fame running back of the Chicago Bears, is given annually to the player who best exemplifies a commitment to philanthropy and community involvement.
Each team nominated one player with the 32 Man of the Year nominees pared down to three finalists in January. The winner will be announced in Houston, the site of Super Bowl 51, during the sixth annual NFL Honors awards show, on February 4.
Ed Block Courage Award: DL Glenn Dorsey
The Ed Block Courage Award is named after Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts of 23 years. Block was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian whose most passionate cause was helping children of abuse. The award is presented in his name each year to the player that exemplified a commitment to sportsmanship and courage. Ed Block Courage Award winners from each of the 32 NFL teams are honored at a banquet in Baltimore, MD. All proceeds from the event benefit the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation’s Courage House National Support Network. Named after the NFL team in a respective NFL city, a Courage House is a facility that provides support and quality care for abused children and their families in that community. The 49ers dedicated their Courage House in October 2003 at the Edgewood House in San Francisco.
Garry Niver Award: S Antoine Bethea
The Garry Niver Award is presented annually by the San Francisco Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America to a 49ers’ player for his cooperation and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their jobs. The