In Sunday's 27-13 victory over the Dolphins, 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith continued what has been a fairly historic run as a pass rusher. Smith grabbed two sacks on the day to increase his 2012 total to 19.5. His first sack on the day moved him past Fred Dean, securing his spot atop the 49ers single season record. His second sack moved him to within 3.5 sacks of surpassing Michael Strahan's single season record.
The 49ers final three games feature the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. The Patriots have been solid in keeping Tom Brady on his feet, as they are tied for second fewest sacks allowed at 19. Football Outsiders ranks them No. 3 in adjusted sack rate for their offensive line. It is worth noting that the New Orleans Saints had done a good job keeping Drew Brees on his feet before the second half of the 49ers-Saints game.
The Seahawks are fairly solid in pass protection as well, although some of that does go to the escapability of Russell Wilson. The Seahawks have given up 24 sacks on the season, which is good for seventh in the league. FO ranks them No. 17 in adjusted sack rate.
Aldon Smith's best opportunity for multiple sacks likely comes in that final game at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have given up a league worst 51 sacks, and are ranked No. 30 in adjusted sack rate. Smith had a pair of sacks in the October Monday Night Football contest.
What I think is more fascinating is where Aldon Smith ends up in the Defensive Player of the Year rankings. In strictly NFC balloting he would likely claim any such award. Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman are likely to split votes with Jennings leading the NFL in interceptions and Tillman leading in forced fumbles. I suspect Richard Sherman would get some votes as well.
In overall NFL balloting, there is a good chance Aldon Smith finishes behind both Von Miller and J.J. Watt. While Smith is likely to finish ahead of both in sacks, there is a very good chance he finishes behind them in DPOY balloting. Smith is having a monster season, but when Watt adds in 15 pass deflections and Von Miller has forced six fumbles and grabbed an interception, I just have a hunch that will reflect well with voters.
What is particularly crazy about all this is that Smith, Miller and Watt are all from the same draft class (2011). Miller went No. 2, Smith went No. 7 and Watt went No. 11. That's not too shabby.