By Jerrell Richardson
Aldon Smith, Outside Linebacker, #99
Height: 6 ft 4 inches
Weight: 258 lbs
Age: 23 years old
Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi
Experience: 2nd year
Drafted 7th Overall?
When San Francisco selected Aldon Smith the with the 7th overall pick in the 2011 draft, they caused of lot of people to scratch their heads. He was projected to go late in the first round, if not early in the second, so when the team used their top 10 pick on the outside linebacker it caused most to question the logic behind the pick. The 49ers had done their homework, however, and knew that the “big board” had it wrong. In just one full year, Smith has done nothing but back up the team’s early selection, already becoming one of the top pass rushers in the game and a big reason for the defense becoming one of the best as well.
Aldon Smith was was born in Mississippi, but his teen years were spent in Missouri. He played both offense and defense in high school, but was a standout on defense, where in his senior year he stuffed the stat sheet with 60 tackles (21 for a loss), 12 sacks, seven forced fumbles, a blocked punt and a safety. With every college in the nation knocking down his door, he choose to stay local and attend Missouri. He redshirted his freshmen year, and the rest is 49ers history.
In his first collegiate year on the field, Smith must have felt like he was still in high school, as he recorded almost identical numbers to his final year in high school. On his way to earning Big 12 Defensive Freshmen of the Year honors, he recorded 60 takes and 11 sacks. His numbers dipped slightly the next year, but it did nothing to prevent him from declaring himself eligible for the 2011 draft, where San Francisco was waiting to add the dynamic pass rusher to their roster. The team has lacked the ability to put pressure on their opponents passer, and it’s no coincidence that the team has become one of the best ranked teams in defending the pass since Smith joined the team.
Announcing His Arrival
Aldon Smith quickly made a name for himself in the NFL in his rookie campaign, earning his first career sack against the elusive Michael Vick. Smith was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week twice and Rookie Player of the Month in October on way to winning Rookie of the Year Honors voted by the Pro Football Writers Association. He set the 49ers record for sacks by a rookie with 14 and did all this while not starting a single game. This year he picked up where he left off, as he leads the team with 7.5 sacks and has added 29 tackles. His impact will start to stretch to other areas of the game as well as he is now being asked to drop back in coverage. With his freakish athletic ability, he will be sure to get an interception or two before all is said and done. He has a long way to go, and a lot to learn, but Aldon Smith has the ability to be the best pass rusher the team has had since Charles Haley, and if the team can add a dominant pass rusher to the mix, then it will only make an already impressive defense, that more much formidable.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.