While Colin Kaepernick has rightfully received plenty of praise for his performance on Monday Night Football, Aldon Smith made his own monster impact in the 49ers 32-7 win over the Bears. It might be a little easier to overlook Aldon's dominance due to his strong rookie season, but it is no less noteworthy.
In a matter of four quarters, Aldon Smith put together a Monday Night Football record 5.5 sacks. The number has bounced between 4.5 and 5.5, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, pending official record-keeping changes. As is, the sacks bumped his season total from 9.5 to 15, giving him a two sack lead over Von Miller for the league lead.
Aldon is moving into some elite company for the season and for his career. He is now only 2.5 sacks back of Fred Dean for the 49ers single season record. He is only 7.5 back of Michael Strahan's 22.5 sack single-season record. Aldon is currently on pace for 24 sacks, although that average was obviously boosted by his dominant performance last night.
For his career, Aldon has a chance to have the most sacks through the first two seasons of his career. Reggie White has 31 sacks through the first two seasons, while Derrick Thomas had 30. Smith now has 29 sacks (14 in 2011, 15 in 2012) through 26 career games. He still has six more games to get past White and Thomas. That's some pretty impressive company to keep at such a young age.
There is no doubt in my mind that Aldon Smith is in the argument for best pass rusher in the NFL. There are different arguments for guys like Von Miller and J.J. Watt, but Aldon's performance against the Bears showed just how versatile he can be. Aldon used a combination of power and speed moves to absolutely decimate Jason Campbell and the Bears offensive line. After the game, Steve Young described him as reptilian in the way he was able to maneuver around and through the line.
I really don't know how much else needs to be said. I do want to check out his moves once again on the game film, but in the meantime, it is pretty simple to consider just how good he really is. A year after making a sort of "national debut" on Monday Night Football against the Steelers, Smith dominated once again under the lights.