Gragg beats out Stone, Newberry for top team honor

Scott Gragg isn't going to the Pro Bowl this season like two of the more heralded players who line up to his left along the 49ers' offensive line. But he was honored Thursday with something that might mean just as much inside the Niners' locker room - the 21st annual Bobb McKittrick Award. "It is in my mind," said Gragg, the 6-foot-8 right tackle who has become a key cog in the Niners' offense since joining the team as a free agent two seasons ago.

"Just because it is something that the team recognizes versus maybe people you're not around on a daily basis," Gragg continued. "It's a step in the right direction for me. New (Center Jeremy Newberry) won it two years ago, and then the next year he was in the Pro Bowl. Maybe this is my step."


Gragg had another strong individual season on a line that once again was considered one of the NFL's best as a collective unit.


Newberry made the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive season, and right guard Ron Stone - who plays between Newberry and Gragg - also was named a Pro Bowl starter in his first season with the Niners. Stone made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons as a member of the New York Giants.


But it was Gragg who won the most prestigious team award given to a Niners offensive linemen. The honor was bestowed upon Gragg by head coach Steve Mariucci and offensive line coach Pat Morris. The award is given annually to the 49ers' offensive lineman who best exemplifies the dedication, excellence and commitment of McKittrick, the former offensive line coach who was with the team for 20 years before dying of cancer in 2000.


"Bobb McKittrick has been one of the most important parts of this 49er organization in recent history," Mariucci said. "And to have an award in his name is a tremendous thing, very well-deserved. Scott Gragg exemplifies what Bobb would love his linemen to be – dedicated to the sport, a true professional on and off the field, reliable, dependable, there every day for practice, every day for all the games.


"Scott's been very steady for us. He's made every practice, played well in every game. That counts. He's there early, watches film and stays late. He's become a leader on this team - a Dirty Dozen guy. A true professional. A family man. Good in the community. Spiritual leader. He's the complete package."


Gragg said he was pleased to receive the honor, but he has always felt he had the respect of his teammates since joining the team as a free agent before the 2000 season.


"I felt that way the moment I got here," Gragg said. "The guys were great about rallying around a new guy and accepting me as part of the family. And I felt that all along. But it does mean something. I feel like I'm part of the family, not a free-agent fill-in or something."


Gragg, of course, feels he has rightfully earned such distinction.


He has started 111 consecutive games - the most among offensive tackles in the NFL. He also has become an imposing run blocker. The Niners average 5.4 yards a carry every time they run to the right side behind Gragg and Stone.


"I've always been a guy that works hard every day, has come in early every day, and sooner or later, the benefits are going to come," Gragg said. "And they came as far as this. And I think it is just a tribute to my hard work. My M.O. since coming out of high school always has been, maybe I'm not the best athlete or the best player, but a big guy that works hard. And that's what I'm going to continue to do until I've reached all my goals. And that's why this was a nice honor."




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