Aldon Smith has 33.5 career sacks, the most for any player in his first two seasons since the NFL started keeping sack records in 1982. And his teammates and coaches voted him the 49ers’ MVP for a 2012 season in which he was second in the league with 19.5 sacks. So no one doubts just how much Smith has meant to the 49ers’ defense.
But Smith’s sack production has declined recently, with no sacks at all in his last five games — by far the longest drought of his career. So what’s the problem?
Smith says it’s simple: He has fewer sacks than before because he has more people blocking him than before.
“A lot more guys coming to block me,” Smith said when asked to explain his sack decline. “I’m getting double-teamed a lot, triple-teamed at times, and then the quarterbacks are getting the ball out fast. Another thing that’s really cool about that is if I’m not making a play, a lot of times I’m getting double-teamed a sack comes from somebody else. I might not get it, but at the end of the day the stats still say it’s a sack.”
Asked to describe what it’s like to get a sack, Smith said, “You beat the guy in front of you. Then you go and make the big play. Everybody cheers and you feel good.”
Unfortunately for Smith, in the last few weeks it hasn’t been “beat the guy in front of you,” it’s been “beat the guys in front of you.” And putting more guys on Smith has proven to be the way to keep him from sacking the quarterback.