49ers vs. Packers: What can we expect from Aldon Smith and the pass rush?

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

The San Francisco 49ers face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The pass rush will be a key part of the game, as the 49ers will look to hurry up Aaron Rodgers. Can they do so effectively?

The San Francisco 49ers face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, and it gives the "new-look" pass rush a chance to test things out against a depleted Packers offensive line. I say "new-look" because the team has added Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta to the outside linebackers. I say depleted because the Packers will be rolling out rookie David Bakhtiari at left tackle in place of injured Bryan Bulaga.

As the 49ers prepare for Sunday's game, a big key will be getting pressure on Rodgers. The 49ers have a talented secondary, but as we saw last year, without an effective pass rush that secondary can struggle. The 49ers recognized this and addressed it in the offseason with the additions. Add in Tank Carradine eventually joining the defensive line, and there is potentially some serious depth.

The 49ers should have the advantage on Sunday given the injury to Bulaga. Of course, the Packers will not just give up and go home. They will use all sorts of options in order to keep the 49ers pass rush at bay. I imagine we'll see them send guys at the Smith Brothers to chip them and slow them down. I suspect the short passing game will be even more prominent. And I imagine Aaron Rodgers will roll to his right a little more frequently to move the pocket away from that side. And of course, Bakhtiari will get some chances to win those one-on-one battles. It remains to be seen how effective he will be, but the Packers do have some measure of confidence in him.

Given all that, is Aldon Smith in line for a big day? Will we see other members of the pass rush step up? Will the 49ers pass rush be able to effective get at Rodgers on Sunday? The 49ers sacked Rodgers three times, hit him five times and hurried him nine times a year ago. In the playoffs, the 49ers sacked him once, hit him once and hurried him 17 times. What can we expect, and from whom can we expect it this Sunday?

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