SANTA CLARA — The morning after winning their fifth consecutive game and their third in a row against a team going to the playoffs, the 49ers turned in their playbooks, cleared out their lockers and went home.
Two members of the equipment staff sat in the middle of the locker room collecting iPads containing digital playbooks and crossing names off a long list. Players sat at their lockers assembling cardboard boxes and filling them with shoes and clothes before catching flights out of town.
“This year was so special,” offensive lineman Joe Staley said. “I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that would want to see us right now in the playoffs.
“I’ve never experienced anything like (this), and I don’t think anybody else has. Teams that have started 0-9, the most wins they’ve had in the entire season is three. Three was the record in the history of the NFL, and we finished with six.
“When we were 0-9, no one was pointing fingers. There was no division between offense and defense of who was doing their job, who wasn’t. That’s very easy to fall into because you want to protect yourself as a person. Especially with the young team we had, it’s pretty rare to have a lot of maturity from a lot of the young guys on this team. That’s one reason we’re really excited about what we have going right now.”
Staley is 33, the second-oldest player on the team. Does he feel reinvigorated after ending the year on a five-game winning streak?
“I do,” Staley said. “If you would have asked me that question Week 6, it would have been hard for me to answer. It really is a shame the season is ending.”
AMONG THE RECOGNIZED
The 49ers announced their team awards for the 2017 season Monday morning.
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin won three awards. He won the Garry Niver Award for professionalism with the media, the Ed Block award for sportsmanship and the Len Eshmont Award for inspirational and courageous play. The Eshmont Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed on a 49er.
Goodwin’s wife gave birth to a stillborn baby on Nov. 12.
“I’ve always had to be resilient my whole life,” Goodwin said. “I’ve always had traumatic things happen and had to overcome it and endure a lot of pain. I’m definitely blessed to be here still alive and still well and still kicking.”
Goodwin suffered a concussion Sunday against the LA Rams, but said he felt fine and “definitely would” have played this week if the 49ers had a game to play.
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk won the Bill Walsh Award, which the coaching staff formerly gave to the team’s most valuable player. This year, the coaches gave it to the player “who has best represented the standard of professional excellence established by Walsh.”
Juszczyk is the only player on the 49ers who made the Pro Bowl this season. He played in 14 games, started 10 and caught 33 passes for 315 yards and one touchdown.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner won the Hazeltine Iron Man Award, which the defensive coaches give to the “most courageous and inspirational defensive player.” Buckner started all 16 games this season and recorded 61 tackles and three sacks.