Through the first 13 games of the 2012 season, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was on a pace to challenge the NFL’s single-season sack record.
He 19.5 sacks, leaving him with three to tie Michael Strahan’s mark with three games to play. That didn’t wind up happening as Smith went sackless from that point through the end of the regular season (and playoffs, to boot), but Smith said he isn’t beating himself up over the missed opportunity at a spot in the NFL record book.
“It’s a goal, but I’m not punching myself in the face at the end of the season if I don’t get it,” Smith said, via Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. “I’m young, and I’m learning a lot and I’m getting better. My goal is really just to get better every year. As long as I do that, if it was 14, then 19.5, at that rate it should keep going. Hopefully, I should be able to trump that record and keep going.”
The reasons for Smith’s decline were much discussed last season, with particular focus on a shoulder injury that required surgery after the season and defensive end Justin Smith’s absence from the lineup at the end of the regular season because of his own injury. If both Smiths are able to remain healthy during the 2013 season, the 49ers defense will be awfully good again even if Strahan remains on top of the single-season sack list.
The chances he gets toppled will go up in that scenario, however.