During yesterday's player availability, 49ers OT Joe Staley was asked about Aldon Smith and his impressions of the rookie. This followed a previous story that Smith had some success in practicing coming off the edge against Staley, Michael Person and Alex Boone on Sunday. While people can make cracks about the level of players he was facing, I'd still argue his strong play on Sunday is a good sign that he is developing his game and making the transition from college DE to NFL OLB. It remains to be seen how that transition will play out when we get into real games, but it's a strong step in the right direction.
Staley spoke primarily on Tuesday about Smith's long arms. In watching Smith at practice he's a big guy. He is apparently about an inch shorter than Manny Lawson, but he brings a solid 20 additional pounds to the table. Staley spoke about how long armed guys don't always put much strength behind the arm leverage, but that Smith uses his strength to take further advantage of the long arms.
If Aldon Smith can sufficiently use his long arms, we could see a whole lot of batted passes from him. While we all want to see him pile up monster sack totals, if he can become effective at batting down passes the adjusted scouting report could impact the play-calling of the opposing team. A sack can obviously be more effective than a batted pass, but there is a lot of value to intimidating a quarterback into looking to another side of the field because of the threat of that batted pass.