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49ers Draft Pick Aldon Smith: What Can Vic Fangio Do With Him?

We continue our run through the seventh round of the 49ers 2011 NFL Draft picks as we check out Trent Baalke's comments to the beat writers about each player's film. Baalke has gone through the film for each player and provided a basic idea why the 49ers selected each player and how they might fit into the 53-man roster. Over the last two weeks we've discussed Colin JonesRonald Johnson, Daniel Kilgore, Kendall Hunter, Curtis Holcomb, and Bruce Miller.

Today we go to the top of the draft with first round pick Aldon Smith, a defensive end out of Missouri that would appear set to make the switch over to outside linebacker in the 49ers 3-4 defense. You can check out Baalke's comments about Smith at the video page.

The 49ers drafted Aldon Smith in part because he brings some versatility to the team and to the defense. According to Baalke, Smith is a guy who has great quickness off the ball and the long arms that can really allow him to finish plays. The team is not looking for a ton of work from him in coverage, but rather just hope that he can be functional in terms of covering tight ends and running backs.

Aldon Smith's success in San Francisco will have a lot to do with what kinds of blitzing schemes the 49ers implement under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. While Smith does bring some excellent athleticism to the pass rush, the new version of the 3-4 will be an interesting story line this season. Much of the focus has been on the offensive side of the ball, but in reality there are just as many questions (if not more questions) on the defensive side of the ball.

The 49ers have brought a decent pass rush at times, but it has also been incredibly inconsistent. How much of that is talent and how much is scheming? Or do you view it as an even mix of both?

As the 49ers prepare for the eventual return of football, is Aldon Smith in a position where less preparation might not be the end of the world for him? He needs to learn the playbook, but if he's focusing in on pass rushing, it's entirely possible he could find some success early on if his athleticism translates at the next level.