SAN FRANCISCO (CBS Sports) — Who needs to win the most on Sunday? CBS Sports Senior NFL Columnist Clark Judge has identified a handful of oft-maligned NFL luminaries who could use a Super reputation boost, including San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and his team’s owners – the York family.

Of Smith, he writes in part: “I know, he pushed his career forward with his last-minute heroics vs. New Orleans, but one game doesn’t undo six years of mediocrity. Most people in and around the 49ers don’t worry about Smith, because what he did last weekend is what he has been doing all season … except not in such dramatic fashion. It’s one thing to get this far; it’s another to make it to the Super Bowl. That step is a giant one. It took Smith seven seasons to get this far, and one more victory would go a long way toward repairing a damaged reputation.”

As for the Young family, here’s part of what Judge observed: “For too many years, there was a perception the 49ers would not and could not be successful under the ownership of Denise DeBartolo York. With the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers not only are back … they’re back on top, in their first conference championship game in 14 years. Harbaugh almost surely wins the league’s Coach of the Year award, but he’s not there without the Yorks. I don’t know if Jim Harbaugh is to the Yorks what Bill Walsh was to (Eddie) DeBartolo; what I do know is that with one more victory, the 49ers will move to their first Super Bowl without DeBartolo … and, yes, that says something.”

Click here to READ MORE observations from Clark Judge on Alex Smith and the Young Family.

(Copyright 2012 CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.)


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