Aldon Smith was on a record setting pace in 2012. He had 19.5 sacks through the first 13 games of the season. It was the most sacks through a team’s first 13 games in NFL history. Smith’s production dropped significantly from that point forward, however. He failed to record a sack in the team’s final three regular season games and was also shut out in the playoffs.
Smith’s play began to drop after Justin Smith was injured during the 49ers’ victory over the Patriots in week 15. Rumors started to swirl that Aldon Smith needed Justin Smith to eat up blockers in order to be a dominant pass rusher. In reality though, Aldon was dealing with a shoulder injury of his own. Smith had offseason shoulder surgery and appears to be at full strength.
“I really didn’t get a chance to heal up, but I’ve had this offseason and I’ve done a lot to get back to where I was and get better,” said Smith.
Now healthy, Smith is expected to return to form and begin harassing opposing quarterbacks again. His 33.5 sacks since entering the league in 2011 is an NFL record for the most sacks in a player’s first two seasons. After coming so close to breaking Michael Strahan‘s record of 22.5 sacks last year, Smith is thinking about challenging that mark again.
“It’s definitely a goal, but I’ll take it game-by-game,” Smith said. “We’ll just do it like that.”
Smith also acknowledges that having Justin Smith back and playing healthy will only help his game.
“There were double- and triple-teams at times and of course not having Justin beside me, they have a lot more attention they can focus on me,” Smith said.
“Seeing the pace I was on, I think any team wouldn’t let me set the record on them or let me get sacks on them because it wouldn’t look good.”
The 49ers need both Smith’s to be at their best this season if they plan to make another run at the Super Bowl. With the two at 100 percent, the 49ers gave up 14.1 points per game over the team’s first 13 contests. Over the next six (including the playoffs), the defense surrendered 29.6 points per game as Justin and Aldon were battling injuries.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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