It was an extremely rough season for defensive end Pernell McPhee, on and off the field.
He underwent a pair of arthroscopic surgeries on his right knee during minicamps and before training camp, dipping from six sacks as a rookie last season to just 1 1/2 during the regular season. And three members of his family have died over the past year.
McPhee has engineered a resurgent postseason, though.
He had a sack and forced fumble on Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the AFC divisional round.
And it was McPhee's pass deflection that inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe intercepted in the fourth quarter Sunday night.
“He's had some personal tragedy, family tragedy,” Harbaugh said. “He's had injuries that have just plagued him, and he continues to fight through them. This guy plays with a lot of injuries. He's one of the toughest people that I've ever been around in my life.
“Now, at the end of the year, he had these two huge plays in these two huge games that really made the difference. It's just so rewarding.”