49ers key matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Kevin Boothe

October 12, 2012, 4:42 pm
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This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Giants matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Candlestick Park.49ers RDT Justin Smith vs. Giants LG Kevin BootheTale of the tape
Smith (94): 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, 12th season, Missouri
Boothe (77): 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, seventh season, CornellIt'll take more than one player along the New York Giants' offensive line to handle All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith. And that's exactly the way Smith wants it.Left guard Kevin Boothe will find himself in front of Smith most of the time. Boothe will likely receive plenty of help along the way from left tackle Will Beatty and center David Baas.And the more Giants linemen it takes to keep Smith in check, the better for the 49ers' defense.Through five games, Smith does not have a sack, but he leads the 49ers with 27 quarterback pressures. Smith's value to the 49ers' defense is that he occupies multiple blockers.And Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride questioned Thursday whether Smith does so within the rules of the game.
"Smith is a beast on the inside," Gilbride told the New York media. "He's strong. He does as good a job of grabbing ahold of offensive linenen and allowing those twists to take place. He never gets called for it, so he gets away with murder."Right outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who benefits the most from Justin Smith's presence, leads the 49ers with 4.5 sacks. And although Justin Smith's statistics are not impressive, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is not the least bit disappointed."There's nothing wrong with him," Fangio said. "He's still applying good pressure. Teams have thrown the ball quickly on us at times. I haven't felt during any of the games like, 'Damn, where's our pass rush?' And until I feel that then we don't have a problem."The 49ers own the No. 2 pass defense in the league, despite opening the season against the prolific passing attacks of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Detroit's Matthew Stafford.Justin Smith will be a focus of the Giants, especially after the teams met twice last season. Smith batted down a fourth-down pass in the closing seconds to secure a regular-season victory. And Smith was dominant in the 49ers' NFC championship game loss against Boothe and the Giants. He recorded seven tackles with one sack and delivered four hits on quarterback Eli Manning.Boothe grades out 25th in the NFL among left guards in Pro Football Focus' positional rankings that takes into account pass blocking, run blocking and penalties.