Aldon Smith's quick transition to NFL success


Aldon Smith's quick transition to NFL success

SANTA CLARA -- Aldon Smith was named NFL defensive rookie of the month for his play at defensive end for the 49ers in October.Smith is listed as an outside linebacker, but he's really a defensive end . . . at least for now.Any secrets to Aldon's quick transition to the NFL? Wasn't he supposed to be a project? (@Joshuahss)
The quick transition was not completely unexpected. It has been pointed out here that it's not uncommon for good pass-rushers to show up in the NFL at early stages in their careers.Sure, there is typically some development that takes place. But pass-rush ability is a skill that, history has shown, can transition from college to the pro ranks. Guys whose job it is to hound the quarterback generally either have it or not.RELATED: Aldon Smith named NFL defensive rookie of the month
And Smith showed signs of being outstanding in that area from the first day he put on pads and started practicing with his new teammates."He's really good," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said the 49ers' No. 7 overall pick on July 31. "He's a really talented player. I can see why they drafted him as high as they did. I'm just so excited he's on our team. Going up against him every day is going to make me better. Because he's one of those dudes that presents a challenge for tackles. . . . It's not every day you see guys with huge long arms but also the size and the strength to go along with it."Staley was talking about Smith's pass-rush skills. That's when he's at defensive end, where he mostly played at Missouri.Where everybody figured his transition would be rough was when it came to standing up and playing outside linebacker.On Aug. 28 after the Houston Texans blew out the 49ers in an exhibition game, coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if Smith were ready to make the transition to being an every-down outside linebacker."I think he's in a process right now," Harbaugh said.Smith has natural pass-rush ability with his large, vise-grip hands, his 35-38-inch-long arms and his unique combination of strength and quickness. But standing up and playing outside linebacker is a completely different skill set.He is not on the Pro Bowl ballot because he is not a starter. Parys Haralson has been the 49ers' right outside linebacker on first and second downs. And Haralson has played very well in that role.Of course, the 49ers envision Smith as a player who'll eventually play every down. Prior to the 49ers' Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Smith lined up in practice with the scout team as DeMarcus Ware. (Ware already has 12 sacks this season.)
Aldon Smith played the role of Ware in practice against the 49ers' No. 1 offense. Now, with 6.5 sacks in his past four games, Smith's play during games is looking a lot like Ware, as well.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”