A major storyline for the San Francisco 49ers in late part of the season was their lack of a pass rush. Aldon Smith was a monster for the majority of the season as he racked up 19.5 sacks over the first 13 weeks of the season.
In Week 14, the Niners traveled to New England as they took on the Patriots in what turned out to be one of the more exciting games in the regular season. The Niners jumped out to a shocking 31-10 lead through three quarters, but what happened to the Niners’ defense in the fourth quarter was even more shocking. They were shredded for 24 points in the frame, and only collected a single sack in that quarter, which came at the hands of Ricky Jean-Francois, who was filling for the injured Justin Smith.
The Niners’ defense struggled from that point on, especially in their ability to defend against the pass. Their lack of pass defense was due to their inability to rush the passer in those games.
Aldon Smith fell the hardest as he did not register a single sack in the final three weeks of the regular season and the three games in the playoffs. His lack a pressure allowed opposing quarterbacks to get comfortable in the pocket and allow receivers to get that extra second to get open.
Many pundits believed that Smith’s lack of production was due to the injury to Justin Smith as those two had become a powerful tandem that tormented offensive linemen. A recent report that Aldon Smith had surgery to repair a torn labrum sheds light on why his production slipped as much as it did. He was listed on the injury report heading into Week 13 with a left shoulder injury and one would believe that the injury degraded over the final nine weeks of the season.
The torn labrum was discovered several weeks ago when Aldon Smith was doing some mixed martial arts training in the offseason. Smith was showing signs that he was suffering from some sort of shoulder injury during his workouts. This led to him having surgery to repair the tear in the labrum just a few weeks ago. The initial report about Smith’s surgery reported that Smith was already out of the sling according to witnesses. Jim Harbaugh told Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area that he fully expects Aldon Smith to be ready for training camp. Smith himself said that he was ahead of schedule in an interview with Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News,
“I’m ahead of schedule, if anything. I’m out here right now with no brace on or anything a couple of weeks after surgery. So I’m doing good.”
Smith should be back at full strength by the end of July when the Niners open training camp.
The Niners will probably have very little to worry about with Smith’s injury. Torn labrum injuries do require surgery to repair like most muscle and tendon tears, but it is not a severe as most muscle tears. According to this John Hopkins Medicine website, a labrum tear takes roughly eight to 12 weeks to heal with four to six weeks for the injury to repair itself and then another four to six weeks to regain strength.
The article also goes on to say that a majority of patients return to activity with little to no restrictions and have full functionality following surgery. This bodes well for Aldon Smith coming back just as, if not stronger than he was before the injury occurred. Smith has already gone into the off season looking to improve on his impressive first two years in the league and he should be able to do that despite the injury. So look for the injury to have no ill effects as Smith head into next season.