The NFL is handing out their postseason hardware Saturday evening in Indianapolis, and while the show is being aired on tape-delay at 9pm ET/PT, the awards news is flowing out fairly quickly. The folks at the NFL have been tweeting out the results and they just announced the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Broncos linebacker Von Miller won the award with 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith coming in second. Miller finished with 39 of the 50 votes, while Smith grabbed the remaining 11.
.@Denver_Broncos' Von Miller named Defensive Rookie of the Year #NFLHonors— NFL (@nfl) February 4, 2012
It was a solid year for both rookies, with strong cases available for both. Von Miller won in part because he was an every-down linebacker and was part of a Broncos defense that deserved as much credit as Tebow for the Broncos resurgence. Aldon Smith deserved to win because he put together one of the most dominant rookie pass rushing seasons ever. He finished with 14 sacks, coming up a half sack short of Jevon Kearse's rookie record.
As the 49ers move into 2012, they will look to work Smith into their 3-4 starting lineup and not just their nickel package. He showed improvement dropping into coverage and defending against the run. Ahmad Brooks is a free agent this year and it is possible the 49ers will let Brooks walk if they think Smith can be an every-down guy in his second season.