Fangio: Aldon Smith must learn position better

August 29, 2011, 8:10 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Rookie Aldon Smith has yet to earn a spot in the 49ers' starting lineup as an every-down outside linebacker.And it looks as if he has a lot of work ahead of him to get there."It's a major undertaking he's going through right now, and once he gets comfortable with that, we'll feel more comfortable," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Monday.Smith is a player whose progress may have been stunted because of the NFL lockout. He said he is still trying to get comfortable standing up and adjusting from playing the defensive line at Missouri, where he usually had a hand on the ground at every snap."I'm just trying to get better every week and work on something new every game, everything I practice during the week," Smith said.RELATED: 49ers defense vs. Houston -- player-by-player review
"Every day you're going to have some things that are frustrating. Some days might be good. I take every day and learn from it and get better every day."Currently, Smith is lining up with the second defense at right outside linebacker behind Parys Haralson. Ahmad Brooks is clearly the starter on the left side.Smith just needs to gain more experience and confidence, Fangio said."He has to learn his position better," Fangio said. "That sounds like a simple statement, but it's a tall task for a guy who's coming from college, where he played defensive end and defensive tackle to now being a standup linebacker."RELATED: Current 49ers roster
Smith's strength -- and the reason the 49ers made him the No. 7 overall pick in the draft -- is his ability to rush the passer. But he will also be relied upon to drop into coverage against a tight end from time-to-time.Smith got a taste of that responsibility on Saturday when he was matched in single coverage against Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels. Smith got beaten by several steps, allowing Daniels to catch a 21-yard pass in the second quarter.REWIND: Blog -- 49ers vs. Texans quarter-by-quarter game notes
"It was by design that we knew he might end having to cover the tight end," Fangio said. "We weren't afraid to expose him to that. And that's a learning experience right there on how to do it and how not to do it. What to expect next time he's put in that position."What did he do wrong?"He didn't play with the right leverage and his technique was off a little bit," Fangio said.

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