It was a magical rookie season for the guy often mis-called "Al Don Smith" by certain TV announcers. "The Condor", as others have nicknamed him, nearly broke Javon Kearse's NFL single-season rookie sack record and did break the 49ers own rookie sack record.
"99 Problems" had some key sacks vs. Pittsburgh on the big stage, too. That got his name out there even more than did his sack totals to that point. He also had the famous "run home" sack celebration, where he just got up and ran straight to the bench, took off his helmet and sat straight-faced.
Yes, it appears the 49ers search for a big-time sack machine finally hit paydirt. Smith's rare combination of size, speed, and power served him quite well as he not only ran around offensive linemen, he ran over his fair share of them, too. It's fair to say that those of us (myself included) who scratched our head at his seventh-overall draft selection were pleasantly surprised in 2011.
After the jump we take a look at his stats.
|2011 - Aldon Smith||14||14||104.5||0||0||0||30||6||36|
BANG! 14 sacks jumps right out at you. There hasn't been a double-digit sack artist in SF since Charlie Chaplin was the biggest movie-star around...ok not quite that long.
Probably the biggest thing about that number, averaging one sack per game according to SBN's numbers (though NFL.com has 16 games played?) is that he did it in limited action. Smith wasn't even close to an every-down player in 2011. Granted some games the team was in Nickel more often than others, but you have to think that he'd have at least two more sacks playing every down.
He's also young and has more to learn about beating NFL linemen. Another year next to Justin Smith, working with Ahmad Brooks in pass rush drills...it seems that Aldon is poised to be one of the NFL's leading sackers (a term?) for years to come.