San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told the assembled media on Thursday that he expected Aldon Smith to see the field on Sunday. This isn't exactly shocking, but it's still noteworthy. Fangio said he wasn't sure that Aldon would get full snaps because of conditioning issues, but he described it as a "fluid situation".
It will be interesting to see just how much action he gets in his first game back. Many expect him to see plenty of snaps, but we do have to wonder where his conditioning is at right now. I'm sure part of Fangio's comments are posturing, although I am surprised he even said he would play. The 49ers coaches usually like to keep things close to the vest, although Fangio is usually a bit more open with that kind of stuff.
The 49ers pass rush has ranked near the bottom of the league. They are getting some pressure here and there, but there has been a lack of consistency. The 49ers have been winning, so it's not the end of the world, but they're approaching a chunk of the schedule where pressure will be essential. The 49ers next three games include Cam Newton and the Panthers, Drew Brees and the Saints, and RG3 and Washington. That's an adequate trio of quarterbacks.
This weekend it starts with Cam Newton. Getting sacks are obviously a plus, but it's also just a matter of containing him when he starts moving around. Newton is one of the most efficient quarterbacks when it comes to running with the ball. He's got speed, but also, much like our own Colin Kaepernick, he combines with it solid size. The 49ers defensive front will have to work to keep him in front of them. Fortunately the 49ers have the athletes to do just that. Whether it be Aldon Smith coming off the edge, or Patrick Willis or NaVorro Bowman coming from the middle, the key will be athlete vs. athlete.