49ers-Packers Matchup No. 2: Smith vs. Bakhtiari

49ers key to stopping Packers? Aaron Rodgers

49ers-Packers Matchup No. 2: Smith vs. Bakhtiari
September 7, 2013, 8:15 am
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Aldon Smith has recorded 33.5 sacks in 32 games to open his NFL career. (USA TODAY IMAGES)


David Bakhtiari, whose brother Eric played for the 49ers last season, modeled his game after Joe Staley's. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Candlestick Park

[RELATED: Matchup No. 3: Staley vs. Matthews]

49ers OLB Aldon Smith vs. Packers LT David Bakhtiari

Tale of the tape
Smith (99): 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, third season, Missouri
Bakhtiari (69): 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, rookie, Colorado

The Green Bay Packers in April made a huge commitment to quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the form of a $130 million contract extension through the 2019 season.

And as the Packers open the season, a rookie selected in the fourth round of the draft has the biggest responsibility when it comes to making sure nothing happens to the franchise's hefty investment.

That's a lot of pressure on the shoulders of David Bakhtiari, the 12th offensive tackle selected in the draft. His first NFL assignment upon leaving college after his junior season is to handle the player who has recorded more sacks through two seasons than any player in league history.

Aldon Smith has recorded 33.5 sacks in 32 games to open his NFL career. He has good size and a wide array of speed and power pass-rush moves. While Smith can line up on either side of the line, he figures to be coming at Bakhtiari for most of the game.

"He's an athletic tackle," Smith said, "a guy that they trust enough to come in there and protect Aaron Rodgers. (We need) to do the same things we did the last couple of times we played (Rodgers) -- making his throws hard, getting pressure on him and taking away his options."

Bakhtiari attended Serra High in San Mateo. His brother, Eric, had several stints with the 49ers last season as an outside linebacker. He has tried to pattern his game after 49ers Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley, one of the top all-around tackles in the game. Bakhtiari became the Packers' starter at left tackle after Bryan Bulaga sustained a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 3.

"We've obviously watched all of his plays as a left tackle," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "He's a good, solid rookie, it looks to me. He's got some good size. He's got some good athleticism. They wouldn't put him in there if they didn't believe he could do the job."

Bakhtiari might be young, but at least he gathered good experience during training camp with daily matches against Green Bay outside linebacker Clay Matthews, one of the top pass-rushers in the game.

"They've had their battles," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's been great work for David. David's had every rep at left tackle since Bryan's injury."

 

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