Everyone knows what a great player Aldon Smith is. Ever since he’s come into the league, offenses have feared him. But how will he do after a long leave of absence?
After being arrested on the suspicion of driving under the influence for the second time, Aldon Smith made a decision. He decided that he needed help. Less than a day after he played in the week three match up against the Colts, Smith voluntarily checked into rehab for his drinking. It was a mature and necessary decision. He was out for five weeks until he was activated from the reserve/non-injury list last Thursday. After being out for so long, what can the 49ers expect from him?
Well first off, Aldon Smith is going to have to earn his job back. He is not going to just walk in and take the ROLB job away from Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier. He has to work for it. Earn it. Show that he wants it and that he deserves it.
No one doubts that he has the ability. He has proven over the last two years that he is one of the best pass rushers in the game. But no one really knows how he’ll react to a real game time situation. Depending on if he kept in tip-top shape during rehab will determine his role. If he is not in shape, don’t expect him to play much. He most likely hasn’t practiced, let alone even put on shoulder pads and a helmet in a month, so it won’t be surprising if he needs time to acclimate.
The 49ers have been doing fine with the combination of Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier, so don’t expect them to rush Smith back into his role. Their recent success is allowing the coaches to take their time with Aldon. For all anyone knows, he might not even play next week. If he does start on Sunday, the Panthers may try to attack him right away. They will try to take advantage of his time away from the field. The coaches are aware of this and they might lean on Skuta and Lemonier just for a little longer because of it. Just until Aldon becomes more used to the contact and the conditioning.
It’s best to keep low expectations for now. Don’t expect Smith to come in on fire and get five sacks in one game. Even though he is a freak of nature and a great athlete, he may need to ease back into the game. Once he gets comfortable, the NFL had better watch out because I’m sure Aldon Smith has something to prove.