49ers key matchup No. 2: Smith vs. Solder

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49ers key matchup No. 2: Smith vs. Solder

This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Patriots matchups to watch Sunday, 5:20 p.m. (NBC), at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

49ers OLB Aldon Smith vs. Patriots LT Nate Solder

Tale of the tape
Smith (99): 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, second season, Missouri
Solder (77): 6-foot-8, 320 pounds, second season, Colorado

This matchup is one of the huge storylines because of its potential historical significance.

Outside linebacker Aldon Smith is chasing Michael Strahan's single-season NFL sacks record. And if Smith has the kind of game against New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder that he enjoyed when they met in college, he'll equal Strahan's record, which he set with the New York Giants in 2001.

Smith leads the NFL with 19.5 sacks, a 49ers single-season record. In 2009, Smith, as a redshirt freshman, Smith recorded three sacks against Colorado in Missouri's 36-17 victory. Smith was matched against Solder for most of that day. (Smith claims he had four sacks, but official stats show him with three sacks and another tackle for a loss.) The 49ers chose Smith with the No. 7 overall pick in last year's draft, while Solder went to the Patriots with the 17th overall selection.

There's added incentive for Smith to pile up more sacks. Smith announced this week that he will donate $5,099 for each sack he records during the regular season to the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco (Willy Mays Clubhouse at Hunters Point) and Boys & Girls Clubs of The Peninsula (East Palo Alto Clubhouse).

"I am excited to be able to give back to my community," Smith said. "Now, in addition to playing to win games, I am playing to raise much-needed money for a great organization that makes a huge difference in the lives of millions of young people."

Smith will have a much more difficult task on Sunday night than he had against Colorado in 2009. Missouri racked up eight sacks against Colorado that day. And, obviously, Solder is much-improved since that time. According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, Solder ranks as the No. 10 left tackle in the NFL. He has surrendered just three sacks, five quarterback hits and 25 quarterback hurries on the season.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been sacked just 20 times in 13 games. The Patriots rank fourth-best in the league in sacks allowed per pass play. Brady gets rid of the ball quickly with a lot of success. He averages 2.49 seconds (quickest in the NFL) before either throwing, scrambling past the line of scrimmage or taking a sack, according to PFF. Brady has a 74.2 completion percentage and a 111.0 passer rating when getting rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less.

For more on the Smith-Solder matchup, please read, "Aldon Smith worked over Patriots left tackle in college."

49ers freeze ticket prices for 2017, 2018 seasons

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AP

49ers freeze ticket prices for 2017, 2018 seasons

The 49ers on Tuesday informed season ticket holders that ticket prices will not increase for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. 

"We are announcing that 49ers season ticket pricing will be frozen through the 2018 season," the team wrote in an email to its season ticket holder. "Invoices for your 2017 season tickets will be made available to view and pay online in the coming weeks, including the option to enroll in a multi-month payment plan."

"Thank you for your valued and continued support as a 49ers Season Ticket Member. We look forward to serving you this season!"

The 49ers will enter the 2017 season with a new general manager and head coach after firing both Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly following their 2-14 2016 season.

McDonough, Paton scheduled for second interviews for 49ers' GM job

McDonough, Paton scheduled for second interviews for 49ers' GM job

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough and Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton are scheduled for second interviews for the 49ers’ general manager position, a league source confirmed to CSNBayArea.com.

The Atlanta Falcons have provided 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe time to meet with presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan from Friday afternoon through all day Saturday. The Falcons are scheduled to travel on Sunday to Houston, site of Super Bowl 51. The interviews with McDonough and Paton are expected to be held on Saturday in Atlanta.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, is not allowed to be officially hired as 49ers coach until after the Falcons play in Super Bowl 51 against the New England Patriots. But Shanahan is expected to take part in the process Saturday in which the 49ers will arrive at a decision on their next general manager.

The 49ers announced the firings of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke shortly after the team’s 2-14 season, which included a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak.

Paton originally interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 6. He met with York and Marathe in Atlanta on the same day Shanahan took part in his first interview with the club. McDonough interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 13 in Santa Clara.