Few players were better at getting to the quarterback last year than 49ers rookie Aldon Smith.
But this year, they’re going to ask much more of him, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.
While Smith was allowed to do nothing but rush as a right end in obvious passing situations as a rookie, they’ve installed him as the starting right outside linebacker this year, demanding much more of him.
Maiocco’s review from the non-contact practices seems mixed, as he notes there were times when Smith would get turned around in coverage, and the challenge of setting the edge in the run game is significant for a player who was asked to do one thing in 2011.
They have a competent outside linebacker in Parys Haralson in case the transition isn’t smooth. And as Smith learns and gets more comfortable with other parts of the game, his responsibilities will likely grow as well.
But when you’ve got a guy who can manage 14.0 sacks in a part-time role, you don’t do too much to diminish his chances to do that thing, and Jim Harbaugh is smart enough to know that as well.