If three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances weren’t enough recognition for the efforts of 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith, the first-team All-Pro can take pride in being honored recently in another way.
ProFootballFocus.com has listed Smith as the No. 2 overall player in the National Football League and top-ranked defensive player in the entire league.
It’s not hard to see why the football analysis site has Smith so high on the list. In 2011, Smith became the third player in 49ers history to record at least 6 sacks in four consecutive seasons. Smith finished the year with 105 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Beyond the weekly production, everyone will remember his two clutch plays that sealed wins against the Philadelphia Eagles (fourth-quarter forced fumble on unsuspecting Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin) and against the New York Giants (batting down an Eli Manning fourth-down pass in the closing moments of a Week 10 win). However, PFF has chosen Smith’s Week 6 outing against the Detroit Lions as his best game in 2011.
Sam Monson writes that Smith’s two sacks, six quarterback pressures, quarterback knockdown and strong performance against the run made it an all-around dominant effort. Monson also notes that Smith finished the year with 15 more combined sacks, hits and hurries than any other defensive end in a 3-4 system.
Smith’s presence on the 49ers has certainly benefited the team’s interior offensive linemen who face him in practice. More on the 49ers upcoming position battle at right guard can be found after the jump.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com previews the upcoming competition at right guard and shares his rationale on why Alex Boone makes more sense at right guard than right tackle Anthony Davis. Maiocco believes Boone can still serve as the team’s backup tackle if named starter at right guard.
Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee caught up with former 49ers lineman Jeremy Newberry who spent time training 49ers fourth-round draft pick Joe Looney. According to Newberry, the Wake Forest guard ran a 4.9, 40-yard dash in their training sessions prior to Looney breaking a bone in his foot at the Senior Bowl. The injury prohibited Looney from working out for teams this offseason, but Newberry was very impressed with the skills and personality traits of the new 49ers lineman.
Lastly, 49ers.com’s Football School coverage continued with a look at cornerback Perrish Cox’s transition to a new team and linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s reaction to being named No. 85 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2012 list.
TWEET ABOUT IT
The first week of 49ers Football School is in the books, but stay tuned to 49ers.com today for additional pictures and coverage of the voluntary sessions taking place in Santa Clara.
Tags: Joe Looney, Justin Smith
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