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Aldon Smith: '[W]hen I'm playing consistently and I'm on my game, I can't be stopped.'

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The San Francisco 49ers pass rush features several talented options, but the team will be counting on Aldon Smith to return to the form that led to his dominant 2012 season. They might not expect 20 sacks from him, but the defense will be looking to him to help drive a strong pass rush.

There is no doubting Smith's raw natural talent. He did benefit from playing alongside Justin Smith, but he can be a dominant presence on his own. Of course, raw skills are meaningless if you can't stay on the field and focused. The last two years have not been pretty for Aldon Smith. Arrests, rehab and a suspension have slowed him more than any offensive lineman possibly could.

Smith heads into the 2015 season with a lot to prove on and off the field. He has plenty to prove without Justin Smith in front of him, but he also has to prove he can avoid the stupid mistakes and problems that have cost him nearly a season's worth of games over the last two years. He is in essentially a "prove it" one year contract due to the many roster bonuses, and he has a chance to earn a whole lot of money heading into free agency next year.

Prior to the end of minicamp, Smith chatted with about the upcoming season. It is no surprise that it was a positive interview. In early June, everything's great and the best is yet to come. We heard very little negative commentary during the offseason workout program. This is just the way these things go.

Nonetheless, Smith had some interesting comments as he prepares for the 2015 season. He said he has lost some weight and gotten stronger. He also recognized that his performance in 2014 was not up to par.

"I don't think I played to my level, and I want to do everything it takes to play consistently at my level," Smith said. "I know that when I'm playing consistently and I'm on my game, I can't be stopped."

He did not get into the off-field issues, but that is to be expected in an interview on the team website. He did however discuss how he could be a potential leader following the departure of several high profile players.

"With those guys leaving, they were here when I got here and showed me the ropes," Smith said. "I learned a lot from them on how to lead and how to be a professional, how to come in here and do your job and then go out there on gameday and perform.

"I'm going to use everything they taught me and things that I've learned and show the other guys the ropes to make sure we keep this thing going in the right direction."

Considering his off-the-field issues, it would be interesting to track how he grows there. Of course, unlike on-field achievements, it is not something we can really track. I mean, if he can stay out of trouble that is certainly a step in the right direction. And really that's all I hope for from Aldon Smith moving forward. Just don't do anything stupid. Avoid trouble.

This applies to all the 49ers now that the veterans have departed for the most offseason part of the offseason. Just don't get arrested between now and training camp. Well, don't get arrested ever, but let's just take this a couple months at a time!