Can the 49ers Replace Aldon Smith?


With Aldon Smith getting arrested again and subsequently released, the 49ers are once again reaching deep into their depth. This time last year the 49ers had the best linebacker corps in the NFL and it really wasn’t that close. Now the 49ers are just hoping they can keep enough players to put on the field.

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On the field, Aldon Smith had hall of fame talent. Smith was a force to be reckoned with and it’s nearly impossible to replace his impact. The 49ers have pretty good depth on the outside, but Smith is a one of a kind player.

However, if there’s a team that can replicate Smith’s impact it’s the 49ers.

Ahmad Brooks is still a very good player. Although he had a down year last year, he is not a player you can sleep on. He was recently a second team All Pro selection, and usually that kind of talent doesn’t just disappear.

Brooks has Smith’s run stopping ability covered, but Smith wasn’t known for how he stopped the run. He was known for getting to the quarterback. That’s the aspect that the 49ers are hoping to recover. Luckily for them, they have the potential talent to do that.

No one on the 49ers roster is going to step on the field and single-handedly replicate Smith’s pass rushing ability and results. But as a committee, they might be able to do just that.

Now that he’s off the team, the 49ers and their fans can be honest with themselves. Sine his 19.5 sacks season in 2012, Smith hasn’t done much. That can be attributed to his suspensions not allowing him to get into a rhythm, but in 2013 he had 8.5 sacks in 11 games and just two in seven games last year.

It’s not all about sacks though. It’s about disruption. If a player can force a quarterback to throw the ball a split second before they wanted to, then they did their job. Smith was great at this. Even if he didn’t get the sack, he was always in the backfield rushing the quarterback.

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  • The 49ers definitely have the players to fill the role of disruption.

    Aaron Lynch came on last year and absolutely wreaked havoc on opposing tackles. In limited time Lynch was able to rack up six sacks, not to mention his ability of disruption. Optimists might say that a good thing to come from Smith’s release is that Lynch can get more playing time. It’ll be exciting to see him in a more prominent role this year.

    For a rookie, Corey Lemonier had a good year in 2013. He and Dan Skuta filled in for Smith when he was serving his first suspension. He didn’t get many sacks, just one, but he was good at getting into the backfield and rushing the quarterback.

    Lemonier fell off a bit last year with the emergence of Lynch, but with more playing time, he should be able to break out of his sophomore slump and be even better than he was in his rookie year.

    Eli Harold is a question mark because he is a rookie. Harold was drafted in the third round this year. When the pick was made, it baffled many people because of the depth the 49ers already had at his position. However, his selection shows why Trent Baalke is paid the big bucks and we aren’t.

    Even division rivals could understand why Harold was picked.

    There’s no knowing how Harold will perform because no one has seem him on the field against NFL competition. With the preseason starting next week, he is one of the players to keep an eye on.

    There’s no replicating a player with the talent of Smith. Players of his caliber come along once in a very long time. However, the 49ers are primed to move on with out him, and do so successfully.