San Francisco 49ers: Rating Aldon Smith’s First Full Game Back


December 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) tries to rush past Arizona Cardinals tackle D

December 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) tries to rush past Arizona Cardinals tackle D

Not As Good As We’d Hoped

Last Sunday was a big game for the San Francisco 49ers.  It was Aldon Smith’s first full game back from his stint in rehab after an early morning arrest for a drunk driving incident that happened in September.  It was certainly an up and down game against a very good New Orleans Saints team.  There wasn’t much to take away from the game with regards to the troubled young player.  From what I could see, he looked rusty on most downs, like he wasn’t quite back up to full speed especially.  His first step was rarely as explosive as we’re used to seeing and his moves to get free were far less effective than one would have hoped to see against such a high-caliber opponent.

I felt like the most telling aspect of Sunday’s game in New Orleans was playing time.  There were way more plays when I looked at the defensive alignment and saw Dan Skuta than I expected.  It wasn’t nearly as bad in the second half, and Smith certainly seemed to warm up as the game went on, but ultimately I felt like it was far from a successful outing for him.  He made a couple great bull rushes that caught his lineman by surprise.  Ultimately I wouldn’t panic, but this is certainly something to watch moving forward.

Luckily for Aldon, the defense as a whole played very well against one of the best offenses in football, and while the game resulted in a loss, very little of what went wrong can be firmly placed on the shoulders of this defense.  If this team can get the offense working again, all three phases of the game are going to be playing at a very high level and if the 49ers are in contention for a wild card spot, getting hot at just the right time can and will lead to a very exciting end of the season for 49ers fans.

My grade for Aldon Smith?  Clearly a passing grade, but could be much better.  B-.

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