The NFL Draft is a few months away but now that the college football season is winding down, we’re getting more quotes from the prospects. Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen said he felt he was No. 1 and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell brought up some nostalgic inspiration.
Clelin Ferrell wears No. 99 because he models his game after Aldon Smith. Watched Aldon when he was at Missouri. Loves his game, but understands Aldon’s career had some setbacks. “I think I can be what he should have been.” pic.twitter.com/Ees9iHKw0h— Scott Bair (@BairNBCS) January 5, 2019
If you’ve just gotten into football recently you might not remember what could have been with Aldon Smith. When Trent Baalke was named general manager and Jim Harbaugh as coach, their first pick was Aldon Smith in the 2011 NFL Draft. Smith would prove to be both a versatile pass rusher and a great linebacker in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense. Aldon’s rookie season had him sacking the quarterback like lions attack antelope.
In his second season, Aldon still was a sack machine but also would drop into coverage on occasion and he was darn good at that also. He even got an interception off of Tom Brady. Sure the interception was a deflected pass in the backfield when he was applying pressure, but still.
Unfortunately, Smith’s career was derailed by alcohol addiction and substance abuse. So much that the 49ers finally had enough and released him in the 2015 preseason. Smith went to the Oakland Raiders for a spell, but he now finds himself out of the league and battling legal battles that have been extended from substance abuse to domestic violence.
Ferrell wears the No. 99 because he’s a Smith fan. If he were to come to the 49ers, that wouldn’t be able to continue. DeForest Buckner wears the number and I doubt the 49ers prized defender would part with that.
If Ferrell could be what Aldon could have been, it would be something. The big question was on how good Aldon was and how good he would be right now if he could keep his head on straight. I love the comparison and I love the compassion. The other question is if Ferrell can come close to Aldon’s level in production.
We always wonder what Smith could have been. Do you think we could point to Ferrell in a few years and say, “that?”