By Jerrell Richardson

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20=  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball and is recovered by outside linebacker Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Credit= Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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There is no reason to worry about Aldon Smith’s recent sack drought. It has been over a month since he has brought down the oppositions quarterback, but there are several reasons to explain it. The notion that Smith is disinterested is ridiculous though. Who really thinks that he was not interested in setting an NFL record? Or that a home playoff game, or road NFC Championship Game was not enough to get his motor going? The past month has been as pressure packed an intense as it will ever get on the NFL level for these players, and the last thing to figure as the cause of his slump is his level of interest. The real reason is a combination of Justin Smith’s absence, Aldon himself dealing with and injury and how he is played against and who they have been playing.

Dealing With Injuries And Double Teams

In practice, Aldon Smith has been limited, trying to minimize contact on his shoulder. His injury has not limited his playing time however, but he is not 100%, so it’s unfair to expect him to be the same player he was to start the season. To make matter worse, while dealing with his injury, his partner in crime, Justin Smith, suffered a torn triceps, leaving Aldon alone in the trenches. Justin Smith is the heart and soul of the defense, and the entire unit struggled while he was out, as they adjusted to playing without him. Without Justin in the lineup teams were able to focus solely on Aldon, so it’s understandable that he struggled as he got accustomed to new looks. Like at other any other position, a player must get an idea of how teams play them before they can figure out how to excell. Aldon is slowly putting this together, and has coaches and one former player helping him learn and develop into a better player.

Advice From a Living Legend

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When Charles Haley speaks about football, you listen. Aldon Smith had the chance to speak with the former 49er, and all-time great, and Aldon said that he picked up some tips before the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons. The pointers may not have lead to a sack, but Aldon had an impact on the game with 10 pressures and 8 hits on Matt Ryan. The role of Smith is to disrupt the opponents passing game, and he continues to do his job. He might not get a sack, but if he forces a pass to come out sooner than desired then he has done his job. Ryan dropped back 42 times and 18 times Smith was in his face, mission accomplished.

If Not Aldon, Then 49ers Have Options

Justin Smith is back and as Aldon Smith continues to get healthier, there is no doubt the impact that #99 will have in the Super Bowl. Even if it means he is a player Baltimore double teams to take him completely out of the game, that will just open the door for Ahmad Brooks, Isaac Sopoaga and the rest of the 49er front. If the Ravens think that Smith’s recent play means that they can assign one lineman to him, then they will be playing into the hand of the 49ers. Either way, Aldon Smith will be part of the Baltimore game plan, and based on what they decide to do, Smith might not have a huge statistical day, but that will only be if he is doubled, and if that’s the case then it will be one of Aldon’s teammates making Flacco’s life miserable in the pocket on February 3rd. Aldon does not care who gets the credit, or sacks, as long as the team wins, and if the 49ers win the Super Bowl, no matter what the stats say, Aldon will have a big part of it.

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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on