49ers notes: Aldon Smith leads solid defensive effort

August 13, 2011, 5:18 am
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
NEW ORLEANS -- The offense sputtered and special teams were a disaster. But the 49ers' defense played relatively well in the exhibition opener Friday night against the New Orleans Saints.The 49ers allowed just one sustained drive in the 24-3 loss. Most impressive, the 49ers did not allow quarterback Drew Brees to record a first down in his three series leading the Saints' first-team offense."I think the whole front seven played extremely well," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We were good in the secondary and the coverage was tight. I was pleased with the way our defense played."Rookie Aldon Smith saw significant action at right outside linebacker and recorded five tackles to tie with linebacker Larry Grant and safety C.J. Spillman for team-high honors. Smith was credited with the 49ers' only sack of the game.RECAP: 49ers bullied by Saints 24-3 in exhibition debut
"I think he flashed a few times and set the edge and use his long arms to make some tackles," Harbaugh said. Because of injuries, receivers Michael Crabtree, Dominique Zeigler and Chris Hogan, tight ends Colin Cloherty and Nate Byham, linebacker Scott McKillop, and defensive backs Tarell Brown, Reggie Smith and Shawntae Spencer did not make the trip to New Orleans.Safety Dashon Goldson and nose tackle Isaac Sopoga did not suit up for the game. Quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, receivers Tyler Beiler and Joe Hastings, and offensive linemen Nick Howell and Chase Beeler did not play. Running back Frank Gore had four carries for 20 yards before he was removed from the action in the first quarter. Gore was making his first appearance since ending last season on injured reserve with a fractured right hip."I think running the ball I did well," Gore said. "I missed one block on a cut block. I know my running back coach (Tom Rathman) is going to get me on that one. But, I still have camp legs. On some of the runs, I felt like I could have done more, but I'm going to watch the film, go back to practice and keep trying to get better." Kicker David Akers, whom the 49ers signed to a three-year, 9 million contract to take over for Joe Nedney, had a career-long 57-yard field goal in 2003.Although it does not count in the records because it was an exhibition game, Akers drilled a 59-yarder at the end of the first half to account for the 49ers' only points of the game. Akers provided the highlight on special teams. Joseph Morgan blazed through the 49ers for a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Rookie Colin Jones has the first and best chance to tackle Morgan.Later, 49ers undrafted rookie Kenny Rowe broke through to block a punt. However, the play was nullified because the 49ers were penalized for having 12 men on the field.

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