Aldon Smith says the 49ers were not targeting Ben Roethlisberger's sore left ankle in the Dec. 19 game against the Steelers as the Pittsburgh quarterback suggested last week.
While discussing the Saints bounty scandal, Roethlisberger was asked by radio host Dan Patrick whether he ever felt targeted. "Um wow -- that's tough," Roethlisberger said. "I don't really complain about that stuff, either. But I think when we played San Fran, I felt like there were some things going on, some extra . . . Now, obviously, I did have the ankle (injury) and I was playing, so there was kind of a bull's-eye on there anyway. But for the most part, guys play tough and you go into a game expecting it. I expect to be tougher than them."
Smith was Roethlisberger's main tormentor in that game. He had 2 ½ sacks - his highest total of the season - against the Steelers quarterback, whose mobility was severely restricted by a high-ankle sprain. Another Smith sack was wiped away because of an illegal contact penalty down the field.
"Our goal was to win the game," Smith said. "We don't go out and talk about hurting other players, their ankles or injuries or any of that. We were going out to win the game. The quarterback, he controls the game. So if he got hit, it happens."
For the record, the 49ers defense was penalized three times in that game. Ray McDonald was flagged for encroachment, there was the five-yard illegal contact penalty and NaVorro Bowman was penalized for a false start.
ESPN's Mike Sando reviewed every Steelers offensive snap in that game and concluded there was nothing suspicious about any of the 49ers' hits on Roethlisberger.
-- Matt Barrows