The San Francisco 49ers stud pass rusher, Aldon Smith, is no longer a rookie but considering Smith’s production in his first year, remaining a newbie wouldn’t be so bad.
After falling short of Jevon Kearse’s rookie record 14.5 sacks, with a solid of 14 of his own, Smith will have a chance to best that record in a starting role with the 49ers in the upcoming season.
Smith played as a situational pass rusher, mostly as a DE, in defense coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. While successful in this role, Smith will now be asked to play full-time as an outside linebacker.
Can Smith make the adjustment or will he suffer a sophomore slump? Considering his rookie season, I would bet on the former rather the latter.
With that, let’s discuss what makes Aldon Smith such a ferocious pass rusher.
1) Bull Rush
Despite his rather thin frame, Smith has exceptional upper body strength. In several games last season, offensive linemen were flustered with his deceiving bull rush. In this case, deceiving was used in a flattering tone.
Again, due to his body type, Smith doesn’t come across as a player that can overwork you in the trenches. Smith reinforces the idiom, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
In addition, Smith was very deceptive in switching up his pass rush. So while offensive lineman thought swim move, Smith instead brought a bull rush.
The best pass rushers in the league are excellent deceivers in my book.
What enamored general manager Trent Baalke about the former Missouri product, was his length.
At 263 pounds, Smith’s speed is incredible but his biggest strength lies in his 35-inch arm length. With such a massive wingspan, Smith has the ability to completely pester opposing offensive lineman.
The best offensive lineman can seal pass rushers off the edge, but with Smith’s wingspan, it makes that process extremely difficult because of his strength, as described above.
Great pass rushers tend to have giant hands. Smith is no different. His hands nearly measure in at 10-inches.
Hand placement is crucial when rushing the quarterback. Offensive linemen are technical players, and when you’re able to disrupt their routine, it makes them easy targets.
Smith is able to use those glove mittens, in combination with his impressive arm length and underrated strength, to have his way on opposing lineman.
Aldon Smith should continue to progress as he transitions into a new role with the 49ers in the upcoming season. Who knows? Smith may end up passing Michael Strahan’s single season sack record at 22.5.
While some may balk at the thought of this idea, nothing seems impossible when this kid is flying off the edge.