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Niners' Harbaugh, Broncos' Miller, Panthers' Newton win AP awards

CBSSports.com wire reports
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Jim Harbaugh has won the 2011 Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award for leading the San Francisco 49ers back to the playoffs.

In his first season as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh guided the 49ers to a 13-3 mark and the NFC Championship Game. They beat New Orleans in the divisional of the playoffs before losing the conference title game to the Giants.

A former NFL quarterback and successful coach at Stanford, Harbaugh earned 45 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily outdistanced Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, who received three votes, and Denver's John Fox, who got two.

Atlanta's Mike Smith is the last man to win the award in his initial season as an NFL head coach, in 2008.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller won a two-man race with 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, sparked a defensive turnaround in Denver with his steady and sometimes spectacular play. He teamed with quarterback Tim Tebow to energize the Broncos, who rallied from a 2-5 record to the AFC West title and a playoff win over Pittsburgh.

Miller received 39 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Smith, also a first-round choice, got the other 11.

The second Bronco to win the award -- LB Mike Croel got it in 1991 -- Miller made 64 tackles and had 11½ sacks despite missing one game and playing the last four contests with a cumbersome cast protecting his surgically repaired right thumb.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Newton is the second straight No. 1 overall draft pick to take the honor in voting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Rams QB Sam Bradford won it last year.

The first Panther to take the award, Newton received 47 votes to three for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.

Newton set an NFL record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with 14 and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. He helped Carolina improve from 2-14 to 6-10, throwing for 21 touchdowns.

No quarterback had won the award until Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. Since then, Vince Young, Matt Ryan, Bradford and Newton have been chosen.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford won the AP Comeback Player of the Year award.

Stafford beat out six other players who received votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Stafford fought through injuries his first two seasons, then threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2011 to lead Detroit to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

He received 21 votes, six more than Cleveland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith finished third, followed by Carolina receiver Steve Smith, Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil, New England defensive end Andre Carter and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Stafford is the first Lion and the ninth quarterback -- four straight -- to win the award since its inception in 1998.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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