49ers defensive review: The Aldon Smith Show

November 20, 2012, 8:51 pm
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If it weren't for Colin Kaepernick, all anyone would be talking about a day after the 49ers' 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears would be the performance of 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith.Smith was credited with 5.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, seven tackles and two forced fumbles in his 48 snaps from scrimmage.He lined up at both end positions, and treated Chicago Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb and right tackle Gabe Carimi with equal amounts of rudeness. In Pro Football Focus' rating system, Smith ended up with an extraordinary 9.8 grade.Smith was certainly not alone, as far as defensive standouts, but he stood above the rest and should now be considered on any short list of candidates for NFL Defensive Player of the Year with six games remaining.MAIOCCO: Aldon Smith leads strong defensive showing
--Usually, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith work together on the same side in pass-rush situations. Aldon lines up at end and Justin is on the inside, where he generally does a remarkable job of creating openings through which Aldon Smith can get a free run at the quarterback.On Monday, the two Smiths helped each other by playing on opposite sides. This made the Bears decide where to give help. On back-to-back sacks, Aldon Smith lined up at left end, while Justin Smith was at right end. They pretty much had a foot race to greet Bears quarterback Jason Campbell on two sacks.On the second sack, it would've been a shared sack, but Aldon Smith forced the fumble that ultimately resulted in a safety. Therefore, Aldon Smith got full credit for the sack.--Aldon Smith used power moves for 4.5 of his sacks, and he made Carimi whiff on an inside move for his other sack.
--Justin Smith had a 6.3 grade for the game, according to PFF. He was credited with only a half-sack, but he was just a step away from getting a couple others, as Aldon Smith beat him to the quarterback.Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks, the left outside linebacker, were very effective in pursuit and making tackles from the backside.--Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga rebounded with a good game. He did a much better job at the point of attack. On the Bears' second drive, he fended off a double-team by center Robert Garza and left guard Chilo Rachal to drop Matt Forte for no gain.--Because Sopoaga did not allow the Bears' interior linemen to get to the second level, inside linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis had big performances. Willis was particularly impressive in pass coverage. He broke up two passes, but he also stopped completions for short gains.--Cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers played well. According to PFF, Brown was targeted nine times and gave up just five catches for 37 yards. Brown made an exceptional play to diagnose a Devin Hester route and break on the ball for a second-quarter interception. Rogers was targeted twice and did not allow a completion.--Safety Dashon Goldson teamed up for good coverage on Brandon Marshall, who was held to just two catches for 21 yards. Goldson made a nice interception of an overthrown Campbell pass and managed to get both feet inbounds at the sideline.--Marshall made only one play in the game, as he went over Chris Culliver's tight coverage to catch a 13-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.--The Bears' one touchdown came on a series that probably should have come to an end several plays earlier. Brooks broke through to sack Campbell and force a fumble. As Aldon Smith and Carimi were in pursuit of the fumble, Smith shoved Carimi from behind, just as Carimi was batting the ball out of bounds. Referee Tony Corrente ruled that Smith was making no attempt to go after the loose ball and, therefore, his shove in the back was illegal. The 1-yard penalty nullified Brooks' sack and it gave the Bears an automatic first down.--Punter Andy Lee and the coverage units had a strong game against Hester, who managed negative-1 yard on three returns. Lee's net average was a remarkable 47.3, thanks some good coverage by starters Goldson and Bowman, as well as C.J. Spillman, Tramaine Brock and Anthony Dixon.--Kicker David Akers got back in his comfort zone with field goals of 32, 37 and 32 yards.

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