Photo: Brian Bahr/Getty Images
San Francisco 49ers passer rusher Aldon Smith is the key to everything his team does on defence. He finished second in the league in sacks, and was named team MVP by the 49ers yesterday.But six weeks ago, Smith fell into a horrible sack drought, and he hasn’t brought a quarterback to the ground since.
Smith explained his lack of production to the media yesterday, saying it’s all about opposing offenses allocating more resources toward blocking him. From PFT:
“A lot more guys coming to block me. I’m getting double-teamed a lot, triple-teamed at times, and then the quarterbacks are getting the ball out fast. Another thing that’s really cool about that is if I’m not making a play, a lot of times I’m getting double-teamed a sack comes from somebody else. I might not get it, but at the end of the day the stats still say it’s a sack.”
The drought started when Smith’s partner in crime — defensive end Justin Smith — went down with an injury against the Patriots. A lot of people said that Justin Smith’s absence was the sole reason Aldon was struggling.
But the drought has continued since Justin came back against Green Bay, so clearly there’s something else going on.
Justin Smith says Aldon’s drought is more a function of the good quarterbacks the 49ers have been playing. Here’s what he told NFL.com:
“That’s just a straight statistic, but what you don’t always see is teams play us a little bit differently. Quarterbacks drift on us a little bit more, and we’ve been playing some really good quarterbacks in (Matt) Ryan and (Aaron) Rodgers. They’re timing guys. They’re getting rid of the ball quick. They do their job really well, as well, so it makes our job a little bit tougher.”
Getting pressure on Ravens QB Joe Flacco is going to be huge key on Sunday. Flacco is quietly one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league, and if he has time to let his receivers get down field, he can make some big plays.
Smith is right to say the lack of sacks doesn’t matter as long as he is getting pressure. But as we saw when San Francisco got torched by Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in the first half of the NFL title game, the 49ers become incredibly vulnerable when they are unable to take a QB out of his comfort zone.
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