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March 15, 2013
Aldon Smith injury highlights rough year for 49ers OLBs


Two days after the Super Bowl, Aldon Smith insisted his shoulder "wasn't a problem at all," a refrain he gave during the second half of the season despite the fact the 49ers linebacker appeared on the team's injury report with a shoulder injury from Week 12 through the postseason.

On Friday, the NFL Network reported that Smith was hurt more than he was letting on and that he had surgery "a few weeks ago" to repair a torn labrum. A team spokesman said the team would not comment on the report but a source with knowledge of the procedure confirmed it and said it was done to address an in-season injury.

Smith, of course, set a franchise record with 19 ½ sacks in 2012, but none of them came after a two-sack game in Week 14 against Miami. He had perhaps the best outing of the year - a 5 ½-sack game - in Week 11 against Chicago while seemingly dealing with the shoulder injury, which appeared to have begun bothering him the week before against the Rams.

Smith's sack-less streak also coincided with linemate Justin Smith's torn triceps injury, which was operated on in February. Aldon Smith downplayed the injury throughout the second half of the season and didn't have surgery immediately after the Super Bowl. In fact, he took part in a mixed martial arts sparring session with UFC fighter Daniel Cormier on Feb. 15.

Smith's recovery time is unknown, although he no longer needs the sling he wore after the procedure, NFL Network reported.

The news of Smith's surgery underscores what an unlucky year it was for 49ers outside linebackers:

* Clark Haggans suffered a torn labrum during the season and had surgery after the Super Bowl. Haggans currently is a free agent.

* Parys Haralson suffered a torn triceps during an exhibition game Aug. 26 and was lost for the year.

* Fifth-round draft pick Darius Fleming suffered an ACL tear within the first 10 minutes of the team's rookie minicamp in May and was lost for the season.

* Seventh-round draft pick Cam Johnson had minor knee surgery in June. Johnson mostly was on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster late in the year. He played 11 snaps.

* Ahmad Brooks did not miss any games. But he, too, was dealing with a shoulder injury at the end of the season and was on the team's injury report for the Super Bowl.

- 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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