Schulters honored for courage and toughness

<P>Lance Schulters' response to winning the 49ers' 2001 Matt Hazeltine Iron Man Award on Wednesday wasn't entirely unexpected. The hard-nosed safety, who has played through injuries all season, simply shrugged when informed of the honor. </P>

"It's an award I'd prefer not to win again," Schulters said. "But I'll take it." The Hazeltine Award is given annually to the 49ers' most courageous and inspirational defensive player. It would be hard to argue any better choice for the award than Schulters, who has played the past three months with a shoulder injury that may require surgery at the end of the season.

Schulters, in fact, dislocated his left shoulder in the first half of an Oct. 14 game at Atlanta. He was carted off the field into the locker room to have the shoulder popped back in place. Then he returned to the field and played the rest of the game. Tough? You could say that. Schulters might be the toughest guy on the team. Last year, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which ended his season in December.

He had two surgeries on the knee in the offseason, but was back in the 49ers' starting lineup on opening day in September. Despite his battles against injury, Schulters is fourth on the team with 65 tackles. He also has two interceptions, one sack and has forced two fumbles. Schulters says he doesn't give much thought to taking off a week to give his ailing shoulder some time to rest and heal.

"Hell, no," Schulters said. "We're winning. It doesn't bother me at all. I take that shot, and it kills the pain for the game, and with the adrenaline flowing, I don't even think about it until Monday morning."

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