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Thursday, November 29, 2012
Aldon Smith's November for the ages


Aldon Smith's transition from situational pass-rusher to full-time outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers has given him additional responsibilities -- and opportunities.


Smith, who needs one sack to break Reggie White's sack-era record for most in a player's first two seasons, has done more than improve his raw sack total. He has also collected more sacks per dropback.

We can easily point to his 5.5-sack game against Chicago as skewing the numbers, but top pass-rushers have big games on occasion. Michael Strahan had a four-sack game against St. Louis while setting the single-season record with 22.5 sacks in 2001. Derrick Thomas had a seven-sack game against Seattle when he finished the 1990 season with 20 sacks.

Smith, with 16.5 sacks, is now on pace to break Strahan's record.

Last season, Smith had all 14 of his sacks while playing as part of the 49ers' sub packages. He has collected 15 of his 16.5 sacks this season from those same packages. Becoming an every-down player has helped Smith add 1.5 sacks to what he might have otherwise gotten without a role change, we might say.

By the way, Smith was named the NFC's defensive player of the month for November. He had nine sacks in three games for the month. That included 1.5 sacks over the past two games while playing in the 49ers' base defense, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

According to the NFL, Smith had 18 tackles and two forced fumbles in November, and he is the first 49ers player since Ken Norton Jr. in 1995 to win the monthly award for defense in the NFC.