Fangio discusses Aldon, Brooks, 49ers' pass rush
Aldon Smith tied Ahmad Brooks for the team lead with 8 ½ sacks this season. (USATSI)
SANTA CLARA -- Although outside linebacker Aldon Smith will be facing one of the better left tackles in the league on Sunday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh expects the Seattle Seahawks to give Russell Okung plenty of help.
“Teams that want to block Aldon Smith one-on-one are whistling Dixie,” Harbaugh said. “That's the way he's playing right now. Therefore, he's getting quite a bit of double-team chips, help from the backs and the tight ends. And he's really playing well.”
Smith did not record any sacks in the 49ers’ 23-10 victory over Carolina in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs last week, but he is playing at a higher level than a year ago at this time.
“I’m healthy,” Smith said on Thursday. “I’m feeling good. I’m just taking it day by day and getting ready for the game.”
A year ago, Smith did not record a sack in his final six games of the season, including the playoffs. He was playing with a shoulder injury that would require offseason surgery.
Now, Smith is healthy and his personal life appears to be more settled, too.
Smith took a voluntary leave of absence early in the season and missed five games while seeking treatment for substance abuse.
“I had some adversity that I battled through at the beginning of the year,” Smith said. “And it means a lot to be back here, a game away from the Super Bowl. That’s all I’m really focused on right now.
“I’m playing good right now. We’re all playing good. Just got to keep it going.”
Harbaugh said he has seen good things from Smith -- off the field and on the field -- since his return to the team in November.
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“I feel very good for Aldon and he's carried the water, the biggest share himself,” Harbaugh said. “We all tend to forget that the reason we got smart is because we learned from our mistakes and that's how you get smart, by learning from your mistakes.
“He's been really good as a teammate. And on the field he's been outstanding.”
Smith and Ahmad Brooks recorded 8 ½ sacks apiece on the season to share team-high honors. Smith opened the playoffs with 1 ½ sacks against the Green Bay Packers, while Brooks has 4 ½ sacks in the postseason.