Takeo Spikes wins Niners’ top award

This and that from today in Santa Clara:

• The Niners have announced their team awards. And the winners are:

Len Eshmont Award (most prestigious award, voted on by players, given to player who best exemplifies inspiration and courage): LB Takeo Spikes, a 13-year veteran who turned back the clock this season. Spikes, who was sharing time with rookie NaVorro Bowman earlier this season, assumed a full-time role and shares the team-lead with three interceptions while posting the 10th 100-tackle season of his career. Spikes has played the past two games with a cast on his broken right hand.

Bill Walsh Award (team MVP, voted on by coaches): RB Frank Gore, who compiled 1,295 total yards despite suffering a broken hip in the first quarter of the Niners’ 27-6 win against Arizona on Nov. 29.

“It means a lot,” Gore said. “Knowing how the players feel about me, knowing how the coaches feel about me and having played only 11 games. I must be doing something good in 11 games, and I’m happy that they appreciate what I do on the field when I’m there.”

Bobb McKittrick Award (given to offensive lineman who best exemplifies courage and intensity, voted on by offensive line): C David Baas, a back-to-back winner who filled in at center after a season-ending injury to Eric Heitmann in training camp. Baas hadn’t played center since his senior year at Michigan in 2004.

Hazeltine Iron Man Award (given to most courageous and inspirational defensive player, voted on by defensive coaches): DT Justin Smith, who has made 154 consecutive starts, which ranks first among NFL defensive linemen and sixth among all players.

Thomas Herrion Memorial Award (given to rookie who makes most of opportunities, voted on by coaches): RB Anthony Dixon and DT Will Tukuafu.

• Gore said he will ditch his crutches in two weeks and begin pool work and weight-lifting as part of the next step in his rehabilitation.

Gore flew in from his home in Florida on Tuesday to be with the team for the final week of the regular season.

A few thoughts from Gore:

On what went wrong this season: “We make a lot of mistakes. We make a lot of turnovers. And you can’t do that in this league.”

On if he’d like to have an offensive-minded head coach: “It would help.”

On Mike Singletary: “I wish the best for him. I loved coach Singletary. I loved the way he coached me, always staying on top of me. But it’s the business, you know? You have to win and we didn’t do (that) this year.”

• Justin Smith took athlete-speak to a new level this week.

Smith’s response when asked about not being fined after he was ejected for making contact with a referee in a 34-7 loss to the Chargers: “It was what it was,” he said, “and it is what it is.”

• Mike Singletary’s last name, spray-painted in white, remains on his empty parking space in the team’s parking lot.

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