Wednesday, January 9, 2013
On Aldon Smith's relative sack drought
By Mike Sando
The San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith used a power move to drive back Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn on a third-and-8 play during a 48-3 victory in Week 5 last season.
Smith drove Penn directly into quarterback Josh Freeman, forcing Freeman to spin away and take off running. Wilson took the long way around Penn. He made up time when Freeman encountered another defender. Smith then dived forward to sack the quarterback.
This sack differed from the other 33.5 sacks Smith has collected during 34 regular-season and postseason games as a professional. This was the only one he made without teammate Justin Smith also on the field for San Francisco, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
That doesn't necessarily mean Aldon Smith requires Justin Smith's presence to be effective. One is rarely on the field without the other. Before Justin Smith's injury against New England in Week 15 this season, Aldon had been on the field without Justin in only three games: Week 8 at Arizona this season, Week 16 at Seattle last season and during that Week 5 game against the Buccaneers last season.
The subject is worth our attention this week as Justin Smith attempts to return from a triceps injury to contribute against Green Bay during the 49ers' divisional-round playoff game Saturday at Candlestick Park.
Wednesday marks one month since Aldon Smith last collected a sack.
Smith collected two during a 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Jan. 9. That left him with 19.5 sacks for the season, a franchise record. But three full games have passed without Aldon Smith taking down an opposing quarterback for a loss.
Green Bay took 51 sacks during the regular season, second most in the NFL behind Arizona (58). Aldon Smith had zero sacks against the Cardinals in Week 17. He had zero against Seattle in Week 16, notable because Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took six sacks the next week and five more against Washington in a wild-card playoff game Sunday.
Justin Smith's return to the 49ers' defensive line should help, provided Justin Smith is healthy enough to contribute at a high level.
That could be one of the keys to the game.