The 49ers had several banged up players return to Monday’s practice, most notably starting outside linebackers Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
In his weekly Tuesday interview with The KNBR Morning Show, Jim Harbaugh said the numerous returns were a result of the injured players staying in Santa Clara over the weekend to receive treatment while the team flew to Texas to face the Houston Texans.
After re-joining teammates on Tuesday, more than a week after suffering a bruised hip against the Minnesota Vikings in the opening preseason contest, Smith was still experiencing soreness in his injured hip.
However, Smith sounded optimistic about returning to game action soon.
“I wasn’t walking, now I’m walking,” Smith told reporters in front of his locker. “We’ll see what happens next week.”
After joking that the injury was really bothering him, Smith quickly let the media know he was kidding.
“I’m healing up fast, I’m on track so I’ll be good,” he said.
Following a rookie season that saw him record a team-leading 14.0 sacks, Smith understands the importance of getting opportunities in the preseason. Coming into his sophomore campaign, Smith will transition to an every-down role as a starting outside linebacker.
So while Smith’s working to rejoin the starting defensive huddle before the regular season begins, he’s also optimistic about getting preseason reps, whether it is this week against the Denver Broncos or in the preseason home finale against the San Diego Chargers.
“I think everybody needs playing time, reps are everything,” Smith said. “If you can get better, why not?”
While Smith’s movement is being hampered, he’s still able to develop his understanding of Vic Fangio’s defense and what’s being asked of him as a starting linebacker.
If Smith’s unable to play this week against the Broncos, he’ll have to settle on observing Denver’s second-year pass-rusher and close friend, Von Miller.
“I know Von, that’s my homeboy,” Smith said of the No. 3 overall pick who edged him to win the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Both first-year standouts competed against one another in college where they formed a mutual respect for one another in competitive Big-12 matchups. When the two crossed paths this offseason, Smith couldn’t help but trade a few barbs.
What did Smith say exactly to Miller?
“I got more sacks than you, bro.”
The comment, said in fun, was also out of respect. Smith appreciates the competition among the top pass-rushers chosen in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“I was happy for him, he got the award. We talked about it before the season started and he accomplished what he wanted to do and I think I did, too,” Smith added. “We’re both pretty happy with what happened.”
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