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49ers shine vs. Steelers through pair of blackouts

By Janie Mccauley

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 20 2011 2:30 p.m. MST

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith (94) recovers a fumble by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) after a sack by linebacker Aldon Smith and defensive tackle Ray McDonald during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jim Harbaugh is pushing for Alex Smith to make the Pro Bowl. The 49ers coach is praising his comeback QB as one of the top three in the NFC along with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in New Orleans — and Harbaugh says he considers the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick to be the team's long-term answer behind center.

While Harbaugh isn't about to start getting into statement games or whether his Niners now have elite NFL status, Monday night's commanding 20-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers showed just how many stars San Francisco has on both sides of the ball.

Harbaugh complimented defensive lineman Justin Smith as the team "MVP."

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