After serving a nine-game suspension a year ago for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policy, Smith returned and only tallied two sacks.
The time off followed by sub-par performances has ignited Smith on the practice field thus far, according to general manager Trent Baalke.
"He’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time," Baalke said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "He’s starting to develop into a leader out there, which is good to see and been a pleasure to watch."
Baalke knows that Smith has an uphill climb in repairing his image. But while Smith attempts to do so, Baalke wanted the San Francisco media to know that Smith is doing what he can to improve ont he playing field.
“He’s got a great look in his eye,” Baalke said. “He’s doing well. I look forward to having you guys visit with him.”
"Well, we sure hope so," Baalke said when asked if Smith would be able to mesh the professional and personal. "A lot of people haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Aldon. A great young man. He’s had some off-the-field adversity, some personal adversity that he’s trying to deal with and is dealing with. But, if you’ve ever had an opportunity to meet him, I think you’d feel how most of us feel, a tremendous young man."
Smith served a nine-game suspension during the 2014 season for violating the league's policies on personal conduct and substance abuse. He recorded two sacks in his seven games after returning from the suspension.
"We've kept the doctors busy," coach Jim Harbaugh said.
The 49ers are currently 6-point favorites against the Cardinals, according to Vegas Insiders.
Smith suffered the injury on the fourth quarter and started heading back to the locker room with just a few minutes left in the game but returned to the 49ers' sideline once the Chargers tied things up. He may see action in overtime if needed.
"Powered some blockers back into the quarterback," Harbaugh told the team's website. "He was close and definitely put pressure on the quarterback. Think the quarterback felt him, as he did our pass rush... There will be things to grow from in that regard. And I think the instincts will be honed quickly and the reflexes will come back very quickly."
Smith was credited with two QB hurries in the 16-10 win over the Giants, with safety Antoine Bethea saying Smith's presence contributed to Eli Manning's five interceptions. According to ESPN.com, Smith entered in the second quarter and basically played the rest of the game.
|2011||San Francisco 49ers||16||37||31.0||6||14||0||0||0.0||0||0||4|
|2012||San Francisco 49ers||16||66||50.0||16||19.5||1||6||6.0||6||0||1|
|2013||San Francisco 49ers||11||34||29.0||5||8.5||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2014||San Francisco 49ers||7||15||10.0||5||2||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2011||San Francisco 49ers||16||0||0||2||0||1||0||1||0|
|2012||San Francisco 49ers||16||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|2013||San Francisco 49ers||11||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2014||San Francisco 49ers||7||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
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