Justin Smith vouches for Aldon Smith's character

July 28, 2012, 7:46 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers expect a lot more from outside linebacker Aldon Smith this season on the field as he makes the transition to an every-down player.But most of the news surrounding Smith during the offseason came from off-the-field incidents. First, he was arrested on suspicion of DUI in January. Last month, he was stabbed twice when his house party in the hills above San Jose got out of control.The second-year player has some of his more influential teammates firmly in his corner.
"He's a great guy, on and off the field," said veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith. "From my own personal standpoint, I've never seen where a victim gets called out."Justin Smith, a 12-year veteran who, like Aldon Smith, attended the University of Missouri, helped get the 49ers' first-round draft pick acclimated to the NFL and the Bay Area during the lockout last summer. Justin Smith has assisted Aldon Smith on and off the field.Justin Smith confirmed he has spoken to Aldon Smith, but he declined to share the message of the private conversations.
Aldon Smith sustained small stab wounds to his shoulder and abdomen on June 30, sources told CSNBayArea.com, from attempting to break up a fight at his residence. Two others sustained gunshots wounds at the party. The Santa Clara Sheriff's Department has yet to identify any suspects.A year ago, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Smith, "If he stays humble and hungry, he'll be good."On Saturday, Fangio said he believes Smith has not wandered off that path. Smith was contrite when he spoke the media on Friday.
"I still think he's humble and hungry, as it relates to football," Fangio said. "I think he got himself into a couple of unfortunate situations. And I think he's learned from both of them. Hopefully, those will be few and far between as we move forward."He and I have spoken, and he's spoke to other people about it. I think Aldon's mature enough and smart enough to know the difference of what he needs to do and what he doesn't need to do and hopefully he'll do a better job of avoiding those situations in the future. I have confidence that he will."Fangio is also confident that Smith will step in and fulfill his responsibilities at right outside linebacker with the same success he enjoyed as a rookie pass-rush specialist. Smith set the 49ers rookie sack record with 14 sacks. This season he takes over the full-time role from Parys Haralson, who returns as the team's top backup outside linebacker."He's going to be expected to take over for Parys and do as well as Parys did or better," Fangio said. "Obviously, he's a lot further along right now than he was last year at this time. He got to practice a lot last year during the season. He got all this offseason work. But he's still nowhere near what he needs to be."

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