A couple weeks ago Tre9er put together a post with a rundown of 49ers OLB/DE Aldon Smith's snaps in his regular season debut against the Seattle Seahawks. This past week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Smith saw his most extensive playing time to date, so I thought it would be worth while to run down all his snaps. He was in on 35 defensive plays with two other plays called back due to penalties (Brooks' offsides penalties). He was also in on a special teams play. After the jump I've run down each of the plays in which Smith was involved, with one extra play that was voided due to one of the offsides penalties. I included it because we saw some of Smith's crazy speed in action.
After reviewing Aldon Smith's performance, there's no doubt about his speed. He is still learning some pass rushing moves but he put together a quality performance on Sunday, that was also reflected in the stats. Smith finished with 1.5 sacks and four tackles while creating some quality pressure against the QB.
Smith rotated back and forth primarily between right defensive end (25 snaps) and left defensive end (9 snaps). He also played once in a sort of left defensive tackle position and another time in an apparent ROLB position, although I'm not sure how the 49ers would qualify it.
What is most noteworthy in all this is that the 49ers spent a huge portion of the game in their nickel defense to combat the Eagles passing attack. In my breakdown of each play I tried to mention whether Vick was under center or in the shotgun when possible. The Eagles mixed in a decent amount of shotgun runs against the 49ers.
As we look ahead to Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it will be interesting to see how much playing time Smith gets when the team uses less nickel defense. The 49ers sent him after the quarterback on virtually every play, with only two exceptions where he dropped into coverage. I'd imagine he is still learning all the intricacies of covering as an outside linebacker so we'll see how much nickel they use against Tampa.
My thought moving forward is that it could be valuable to try and chart Aldon Smith the rest of the season. I can go back and chart out the Bengals and Cowboys games using NFL Game Rewind. Moving forward though, do you think charting each of his games this rookie season would be useful? It's a bit time-consuming but I figure it's an option if you guys are interested.
Also, if you have questions about any of the specific plays, let me know. I've got the game saved on my DVR so I can go back and answer questions on them where possible. And please ignore the fact that I don't use many of the technical terms for certain pass rush moves or other things within the play. I don't know quite as much about that as others so I stick with more basic descriptions.
1Q 14:15 - 3rd and 2, Philly 28- Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Jason Peters. Peters initially shuffled a little to his left but then Smith got a couple pushes on him. Vick got a quick pass off into the left flat before Smith could get too much in his face.
1Q 11:06 - 2nd and 1, Philly 43 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite TE Brent Celek. Eagles ran a run shotgun handoff up the middle to right of center away from Smith
1Q 5:43 - 1st and 10, SF 34 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite TE Celek. Eagles handoff to McCoy runs right at Smith. Celek cut inside to engage one of the middle linebackers and Peters cut to the left and engaged Smith. Peters went to grab Smith but Smith sort of slid around Peters on his left side and cut back in to tackle McCoy who was slowed down by Evan Mathis trying to block Justin Smith.
2Q 13:03 - 2nd and 10, SF 21 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Todd Herremans. Eagles lined up in shotgun and Vick threw short dump off to McCoy on left side away from Smith. Herremans initially dropped back and Smith tried to shove him to the left but couldn't really get around him. Seemed like Herremans was grabbing on a bit, but Vick got the pass off quickly enough that it didn't really matter one way or the other.
2Q 12:23 - 3rd and 3, SF 14 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Herremans as Eagles lined up in shotgun. Fangio sent NaVorro Bowman on a blitz up the middle and Vick had to throw quickly so little time for Smith-Herremans battle to develop.
2Q 10:32 - 1st and 10, Philly 49 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Herremans as Eagles lined up in shotgun. Smith went to the outside and seemed to have a step, but Herremans did an excellent job sliding him away and around Vick. Smith used the first push to try and get around Herremans but the RT recovered and kept him out of the play
2Q 10:28 - 2nd and 10, Philly 49 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters as Eagles lined up in shotgun. The Eagles ran a quick handoff to McCoy who was lined up on Smith's side. The run was to center/RG, which meant Peters slide to his right to block for McCoy. Nobody was on Smith so he dove back towards the run but didn't really have any affect on the play.
2Q 5:20 - 1st and 10, Philly 41 - Smith lined up at LDT opposite RG Kyle Devan as Eagles lined up in shotgun. Ahmad Brooks was just outside him sort of standing up, but based on rest of formation, looked like Smith was in a hybrid LDE/LDT position. Smith feinted outside and then cut inside and split between Devan and center Jason Kelce. Vick however had to roll to his own left as Carlos Rogers brought pressure. Smith had broken through but Rogers pressure pulled the play away from Smith.
2Q 4:11 - 2nd and 10, SF 48 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite Herremans as Eagles lined up in shotgun. Smith blew past Herremans who thanks in part to a corner blitz from Carlos Rogers. Rogers timed the snap well and Herreman had Rogers to his right and Smith to his left. He froze just long enough for Smith to get past him virtually untouched. Smith got in on Vick and went down to tackle him. However, Smith went down for one of Vick's legs and Vick was quickly able to get away from the leg tackle for a five yard gain.
2Q 3:40 - 3rd and 5, SF 43 - Smith lined up at more of an ROLB position opposite Brent Celek. At the snap Celek took a step forward but then stopped to go into blocking on the Vick pass to Desean Jackson down the right side. Smith sort of stood around waiting for Celek to do something.
2Q 3:11 - 1st and 10, SF 14 - Smith lined up at RDE split fairly wide left somewhat opposite LT Peters with Eagles lining Vick up under center and one running back behind him. Vick ran play-action but Smith didn't seem particularly fooled by it. Peters went to his right to block and right guard Devan pulled out to the left to take on Smith. Smith was moving outside but then cut inside just as quickly. McCoy slides over to try and help but Smith splits between them and gets to Vick. He grabs hold of Vick who cuts to his left trying to use Devan as a shield. Smith grabs firm hold of Vick's leg and is credited for the sack as Devan is called for a hold. FIRST CAREER SACK
2Q 2:48 - 2nd and 20, SF 24 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters, against split out a bit wider than normal. Vick was under center with one running back behind him. Peters didn't have much trouble sliding Smith to the left away from Vick. Smith did finally throw him aside a bit at the end but he was a couple yards back of Vick and had no chance to get to him as he threw the ball.
2Q 2:10 - 3rd and 9, SF 13 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Herremans with VIck in shotgun and RB to his left. Smith made a move towards the outside and then spun back around inside trying to get past Herremans. However, Isaac Sopoaga has engaged RG Devan a bit to his right which closes up the hole and prevents Smith from turning the spin move into backfield penetration. He is kept out of the play.
2Q 0:53 - 1st and goal, SF 10 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite Peters with Celek in short slot in front of him as well, with Vick taking snap under center. Smith fakes a move forward and then quickly loops around behind Justin Smith to come in between the left guard and center. As Smith comes through the hole, Vick is about to throw. Smith jumps up and Vick pulls the ball in, rolling to his right. As Smith is coming down from his jump, LG Evan Mathis has disengaged from double-teaming Justin Smith. Mathis appears to give Smith a little bump as he (Mathis) is going down. It's not much but slows down Smith a bit and Vick is able to roll further left away from trouble.
2Q 0:48 - 2nd and goal, SF 10 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite Peters, split a bit wide again with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his left. Smith drops into coverage of McCoy who is moving towards the left flat. Pass is also to a wide receiver beyond Smith, but not anything Smith could make a play on.
2Q 0:42 - 3rd and goal, SF 5 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Herremans with Vick under center in I-formation. Eagles audible to split backs behind Vick. On snap Vick rolls right into Smith but shovel pass to McCoy as he was running past Smith for the TD. If Vick doesn't throw the shovel he gets blown up by Smith, but that was obviously the reason for the little shovel pass.
3Q 11:55 - 4th down, 45-yard FG attempt - Smith is lined up on the far left side of the FG protection unit. King Dunlap got through the middle to block the field goal. The ball bounced back to the 50-yard line and was picked up by Colt Anderson. Anderson stumbled and fell with it, but Aldon Smith got back to land on Anderson for the tackle to prevent a bigger return. I don't know if Anderson would have been able to get up and run some more, but after Smith, Andy Lee and David Akers were the next two closest players. Good hustle play either way.
3Q 11:08 - 1st and 10, SF 21 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite TE Celek with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his right. Celek goes into his pattern leaving Smith going at LT Peters. Aldon Smith goes inside on Peters with a push to the right. It was a good enough push by Smith but he appeared to benefit from Peters having shuffled a little too far over. Smith got past him quickly and Peters grabbed hold of his shoulder. Peters went down and tripped up Smith who rolled into Vick on his back. Smith quickly rolled over and swiped at Vick's leg. Vick was sort of falling backward from Smith getting tripped over into him and threw the ball away quickly as he fell to the ground. Not a sack but good pressure.
3Q 10:56 - 2nd and 10, SF 21 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his left. It was an inside handoff to McCoy and Smith never had time to get in on the play.
3Q 6:28 - 3rd and 3, Philly 28 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his left. Eagles have a pair of bunched receivers on both sides and Smith lines up a good two to three yards away from LDT Justin Smith. Aldon Smith takes a step across the line of scrimmage and a bit to his right in coverage. He gives Jackson a tap as he runs out on his pattern then turns back in towards Vick. LT Peters is waiting and Smith doesn't engage Peters. Vick then scrambles out to the right and Smith begins pursuit of him with the rest of the defense. More or less out of the play.
3Q 2:58 - 1st and 10, Philly 20 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his left. Brent Celek sent in motion from right to left. At snap, Celek put up an effort to block but is thrown out of the way, although looked a bit like he was simply chipping and then going into a route towards the sideline. Smith got past Celek and faced Peters from there. He cut right inside on Peters. Didn't have to make a big move as the pocket was collapsing outside of Peters and Vick step up towards Smith. McDonald grabbed Vick and started spinning him around and Smith finished off the sack taking out Vick's lower body. Ahmad Brooks was also in on the play. 1/2 SACK
3Q 2:35 - 2nd and 11, Philly 19 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick under center with one back. Vick handed off right to McCoy. The play ended so quickly (Brooks tackle in the backfield) that Smith wasn't involved.
3Q 1:57 - 3rd and 16, Philly 14 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun, McCoy to his left. McCoy helped Peters double team Smith who was unable to get around either before Vick threw a deep pass to Desean Jackson.
3Q 1:06 - 1st and 10, SF 25 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite TE Celek/LT Peters with Vick under center and one back. It was a run up the middle, but McCoy quickly bounced to his left and went between behind LG. Celek quickly went past Smith into second level to block. Peters cut towards his right to block leaving Smith standing without anybody engaging him. The run ended before Smith could affect the play.
4Q 15:00 - 2nd and 17, SF 32 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite TE Celek and RT Herremans with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his left. Rogers blitzed in behind Smith on the play as Smith cut inside on Herremans. As Smith was about to get past him Herremans went down with Smith, more or less tackling him to the ground as Vick made the throw.
4Q 11:45 - 1st and 10, Philly 20 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite TE Celek with Vick under center and one back. Smith went straight at Celek and after one push he got around Celek. However, Vick quickly threw to his right before Smith could impact the play.
4Q 11:05 - 2nd and 10, Philly 32 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun and no backs. Again Smith is lined up pretty wide to the right. Smith went at Peters but couldn't get around him. Vick made a fairly quick throw to Jason Avant before Smith/Peters could develop further.
4Q 10:14 - 2nd and 10, SF 49 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Herremans with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his right. Herremans quickly shuffled Smith past Vick and out of the play before Vick passed the ball.
4Q 9:34 - 1st and 10, SF 34 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his left. Peters moved up and to his right to engage the inside linebacker on a run play. The handoff sent McCoy off the right tackle so away from Smith.
4Q 8:56 - 2nd and 9, SF 33 - Smith lined up at LDE opposite RT Herremans with Vick in shotgun and no backs (McCoy motioned out of backfield). Smith cut inside on Herremans but a Rogers blitz from the same side sent Vick rolling to his left and Smith was out of the play.
4Q 8:07 - 1st and 10, SF 13 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick under center and one back. Ronnie Brown lined up in a bit of a tight slot receiver position to Vick's right and they ran a sort of trap play inside between where C/RG would be. Peters and LG Mathis both moved forward to engage their second level block, which left Smith wide open to make the play on Brown after a three yard gain.
4Q 7:35 - 2nd and 7, SF 10 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick under center and one back. Peters engaged Smith and pushed him out of the way as McCoy bounced out to the left side. Smith dove and missed on a diving attempt at a tackle. The play was called back however on a separate holding call against Evan Mathis who was holding RDT Justin Smith.
4Q 7:10 - 2nd and 17, SF 20 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick under center, one back and TE Celek sent in motion from right to left. Celek chipped Smith out a bit and kept him out of the play as Vick threw pretty quickly.
4Q 7:02 - 3rd and 17, SF 20 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite TE Celek with Vick in shotgun and McCoy to his right. Smith stuttered outside and then cut back inside on Peters (Celek went off into his route right away). Smith was getting past him and had a straight shot at Vick but this play illustrated the idea that there is holding by offensive linemen on every play. Peters slowed down Smith enough as Vick rolled to his left that Smith couldn't get to him.
4Q 2:24 - 1st and 10, Philly 46 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun, McCoy to his right. Smith went to the outside and Peters went down to take him out at the knees. Smith shot up a bit and landed on his hands. Vick threw the ball to his right shortly after so Smith didn't get too involved in the play.
4Q 2:21 - 2nd and 10, Philly 46 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with some bunch receivers and Celek, Vick in shotgun, McCoy to his right. Brooks offsides penalty happened on this play, but thought Smith's play was worth a mention. Smith blew past Brent Celek and as Vick stepped up into the pocket he sacked him from behind. Didn't count and Celek might have slowed up because of seeing the offsides. If he didn't purposely slow up then Smith burned him pretty badly.
4Q 2:15 - 2nd and 5, SF 49 - Smith lined up at RDE opposite LT Peters with Vick in shotgun, McCoy to his left. Peters went to line up for Maclin wide receiver screen, which let Smith get into the backfield untouched. He got a hand up as Vick threw to Maclin and might have almost tipped the ball. Maclin subsequently fumbled.