After extensive study and film review, I’ve come to the conclusion that Aldon Smith is a beast.
I know, I know — #analysis, but there isn’t much more to say. Even with a bye week to open the month of November, Smith still registered nine sacks in three games, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors. He now has 16.5 sacks on the season, on pace to break Michael Strahan’s single season record of 22.5.
Earlier this week Smith told Jim Rome that he has 99 moves to get to the quarterback; I don’t doubt that. I set out to see how many of those moves he used against blockers and quarterbacks this month. Although he didn’t use all 99 in the last three weeks, he certainly used enough to stand out.
Week 10 vs. the Rams
Here’s an example of the very effective inside stunt that Vic Fangio runs with the Smiths. Justin takes on the tackle, while Aldon takes an inside route between guard and center. No one even touches Aldon on this play.
It helps to have Justin there drawing the double team, or maybe he’s just doing a great job in the “grab game” — you tell me.
This isn’t the last time that Sam Bradford volunteers a sack to Smith. The same thing happens on his second sack.
He runs a similar stunt for his overtime sack, except this time he splits guard and tackle. Bradford doesn’t stand a chance.
Week 11 vs. the Bears
Here’s where the fun really begins. We all know how much Smith loves to play under the lights, but if it seems like you’ve never seen a performance like the one he had against the Bears, that’s because you haven’t.
His first sack came relatively early in the first quarter, at the expense of one extremely manhandled J’Marcus Webb.
Smith pushes him five yards into the backfield before literally throwing him away to tackle Jason Campbell.
That’s Webb, circled in red and watching his quarterback go down. If you asked Jay Cutler, he’d probably tell you that’s not the first time that Webb has played spectator.
For his second sack, Smith is going to use explosion to get Webb on his heels and shed him to the inside.
Okay, so Webb is on his tiptoes, not his heels, but he still lacks the leverage to stop Smith and all of his strength.
So much for protecting the blind side.
Campbell ended up landing on the ball, but check out the awareness from Smith as he punches the ball out of the quarterback’s hand.
For his next sack, Aldon stunts inside and takes on three lineman at once.
Justin Smith is coming around the outside, but it doesn’t matter. Even a three-body wall can’t stop Aldon from getting to the quarterback.
I wonder how that conversation went…
Here’s where it starts to get unfair. Fangio decided it was probably a good idea to put Smith heads up against the Bears third-string right tackle Gabe Carimi. What ensues is a nasty rip move that sends Carimi flailing while Smith heads off to kill Campbell again.
Carimi appears to be punching the air.
This next sack is your routine double bull rush from the Smith brothers.
The dynamic duo shares this sack — Justin takes off Campbell’s head while Aldon tries to eat his leg. (P.S. If you don’t think Aldon is strong, check out how far he tossed Carimi — he’s still going backwards while Campbell is being sacked.)
Aldon’s last sack of the night is my favorite for two reasons: 1.) the Bears assign two blockers to him and it doesn’t work and 2.) it involves Chilo Rachal and intentional grounding.
Carimi represents the primary blocker and Lance Louis plays the role of safety valve.
Smith handles Carimi with a swim move…
…and Louis with a rip, before sacking Campbell in the end zone and forcing a fumble.
Bonus shot: Chilo Rachal getting tackled in the end zone while trying to throw the ball away.
Week 12 vs. the Saints
Let’s call this first sack “exhibition of speed.” No special moves, just blowing by the tackle and smothering Drew Brees.
And for his last sack of the month, Aldon uses that inside stunt and shares the wealth with a bull-rushing Justin Smith.
Justin takes on a double team while Aldon wheels around in between guard and center.
He blows by both of his blockers and carries center Brian De La Puente on his way to the quarterback.
Somehow Justin ends up getting through the double team and wheeling around the back to help Aldon take Brees down. De La Puente is watching from his new home on the ground while Aldon wreaks havoc in the backfield — just another victim of the 49ers’ best pass rusher — the NFL’s best pass rusher in November.