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January 5, 2012
Breakdown: 49ers received huge contribution from rookie class


Aldon Smith didn't start a single game for the 49ers this season, but he played more offensive or defensive snaps than any of the team's rookies. Smith, who mainly entered the game as a defensive end in passing situations, played 489 of the 49ers' 1,014 defensive snaps this season or 48 percent. Smith on Thursday was named defensive rookie of the month of December (6 1/2 sacks in four games), and he is a leading contender for defensive rookie of the year.

Smith highlights a rookie class that contributed heavily to the 49ers' first trip to the playoffs in nine seasons. Cornerback Chris Culliver played 415 of the defensive snaps (41 percent) while fullback Bruce Miller was in on 324 offensive snaps (32 percent) and Kendall Hunter was in for 288 snaps (28 percent). Miller started the most games - eight - of any rookie. The only other rookie to start a game was Hunter, who started in Week 4 in Philadelphia.

Colin Jones had a big role on special teams while undrafted defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs also was a regular on special teams during the second half of the season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, receiver Joe Hastings, defensive linemen Ian Williams and guard Daniel Kilgore also played this year. Seventh-round pick Mike Person and quarterback Scott Tolzien were the only two rookies who didn't play a snap. Neither was active this season.

The snap count changes dramatically when special teams plays are added. Culliver was in on 202 of the team's 463 special teams plays this season, giving him 617 total snaps. Miller played 244 special teams plays, giving him 568 snaps.

Total snaps, (special teams included)
CB Chris Culliver 415 (202) 617
FB Bruce Miller 324 (244) 568
DE Aldon Smith 489 (58) 547
RB Kendall Hunter 288 (67) 355
S Colin Jones 1* (203) 204
DL Demarcus Dobbs 34 (87) 121
QB Colin Kaepernick 20 (0) 20
WR Joe Hastings 18 (0) 18
G Daniel Kilgore 1 (0) 1

* Jones' single play came on offense. It occurred on Sunday.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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