The San Francisco 49ers need to turn up the heat on Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in Super Bowl XLVII. To do that, they need to start rushing the passer better than they have been recently.
The pass rush for the Niners hasn’t been the same the last month, not with Aldon Smith in a bit of a rut. Smith finished second in the NFL with 19 ½ sacks but he has not had one in the last five games – two postseason contests and the final three games of the regular season. Smith last had a sack when he recorded two vs. the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 9.
It’s been a long time and there are multiple factors that contribute to his slowed production, including a partial triceps tear for defensive end Justin Smith. When Justin Smith is playing at a high level, offenses must pay attention to him allowing Aldon Smith, an outside linebacker, more opportunities. Aldon Smith also has a shoulder injury he is battling with now.
“A lot more guys coming to block me,’’ said Aldon Smith, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I’m getting doubled teamed a lot. Tripled team at times. And the quarterbacks are getting the ball off fast. But if I’m not making the play, there have been times when I’ve been double teamed and the sack comes by somebody else. At the end of the day, I might not get it but the stat is still there, it’s a sack.’’
We’re not sure if we buy the double teaming excuse. Aldon Smith has 33 ½ sacks in just two seasons and it didn’t take that long for opposing offenses to understand he requires extra attention. He hasn’t been playing at his highest level and he will need to in this game.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune