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Brown's hat off to Bobb after winning award

<P>Ray Brown wore a floppy white hat in front of his locker Wednesday afternoon, something similar to what the lead character wore in "Gilligan's Island." The headgear had the letters BOBB stitched into the side, and nobody had to ask what those initials stood for. </P>

"This is an old Bobb hat," Brown said. It was the kind of hat often worn at practice by Bobb McKittrick, the legendeary 49ers offensive line coach who died of cancer in 2000 after 21 years with the team. And Brown, the Niners' veteran left guard, certainly had a particular reason to be wearing the hat Wednesday. He had just been named the recipient of the team's 2001 McKittrick Award, given annually to the offensive lineman who best represents the courage, intensity and sacrifice displayed by the popular McKittrick in his 21 years with the team.

"It's a great honor just winning anything with Bobb's name on it," said Brown, who also won the award in 1997 and 1999. "It's synonymous with hard work, dedication, those types of things that that guy stood for. So I'm truly honored to be awarded that recognition."

It could be the first of several honors coming Brown's way in the upcoming week. The 39-year-old veteran, in his 16th NFL season, is performing at a top level for one of the league's top offenses and appears to be a strong bet to be named to the Pro Bowl this month for the first time in his career. Players and coaches cast their Pro Bowl votes this week and the AFC and NFC teams will be named shortly. But Brown doesn't spend too much time worrying if this will be the year he finally is recognized around the league.

"I can't put too much weight into that stuff," he said. "Not to take any shine off of that. It's a great honor. Really, I think a lot of guys in this locker room are kind of satisfied with where the season is going team-wise. We're really excited about that. But if there are honors to individuals in this locker room, I think a lot of it's going to have to be because of the success the team is having."

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