49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 14, 2012
Aldon Smith's debut at OLB? Look for it in Week 3

aldonhelmet.jpg

One of the 49ers' offseason storylines was how Aldon Smith, who was used primarily as a situational pass rusher a year ago, would adjust to an every-down role as an outside linebacker this year.

After one regular-season contest and a slate of exhibition season games, we're still waiting for the answer.

Smith missed all but a few snaps of the preseason after suffering a hip pointer in the first game. And he was in his familiar role as a pass-rushing defensive end Sunday against the Packers. Green Bay used three and four receivers so often that the 49ers were in their nickel and dime defenses virtually the entire game.

Still, it was Smith's first-ever NFL start, and he ended up playing 60 snaps. "My cardio's good, I'm in shape," Smith said this week. "I didn't have any problem playing the whole game."

On Sunday, Smith will face a familiar foe. When the 49ers and Lions met in Week 6 last season, San Francisco's starter at right outside linebacker, Parys Haralson, injured his hamstring and didn't play the second half. That gave Smith the most snaps - about 40 - he played during his rookie season, and he made the most of the opportunity. He finished the game with two sacks, forced a Matthew Stafford fumble and was credited with a safety.

Like the Packers, the Lions prefer to throw the ball. Smith and the 49ers mostly were in their nickel defense last year and they figure to be in that alignment Sunday at Candlestick Park.

Smith's first game as a true outside linebacker likely will come Sept. 23 against Vikings running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. Smith injured his hip against Minnesota in Week 1 of the preseason.

Smith set a rookie franchise record in 2011 with 14 regular-season sacks, recording his first in a Week 4 win against Philadelphia. He already has one this year, although it was marred by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when Smith flipped off his helmet following the play. Smith insisted the helmet already was coming off after it struck, and was popped up by, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' heel as the two were going to the ground.

NOTES: Randy Moss' 47 receiving yards against the Packers puts him in fifth place in all-time receiving yards with 14,905. With 30 more yards, he would pass Tim Brown for fourth place all-time.

• The Seahawks signed ex-49ers offensive lineman Mike Person to their practice squad. Another ex-49er, center Chase Beeler, was released from the Eagles practice squad.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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