Aldon Smith didn’t get to his first Pro Bowl alone. On Wednesday, the second-year sackmaster was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad along with eight of his teammates, the most of any NFL team.
“It says a lot about the team – how many guys are playing at a high-caliber and how many guys are playing at an elite level,” Smith said. “It shows everybody that we’ve got a team full of guys that are talented individuals.”
The athletic linebacker currently ranks second in the league with 19.5 sacks this year, 3.0 short of the NFL single-season record set by Michael Strahan in 2001. But true to his team-first nature, Smith won’t be focused on trying to break Strahan’s mark when the 49ers host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in the regular season finale.
When asked if he like his chances of surpassing Strahan in Week 17, Smith responded, “I like the chances of us getting the win.”
Much of the success behind Smith’s record-setting pace to start his career has been the play of fellow Pro Bowler Justin Smith in the trenches. Together, they have become one of the best lineman-linebacker tandems throughout the entire league.
“We’re both going, it’s definitely cool,” Aldon Smith said. “Again, it shows the caliber everybody’s playing at and what he’s playing at.”
Perhaps this recognition for Aldon Smith is a season overdue, as he set a 49ers franchise rookie record with 14 sacks in 2011. For his career, Aldon Smith has 33.5 sacks, the most for any player in his first two NFL seasons. But Aldon Smith also showed he can be an every-down linebacker this year, as he recorded 80 tackles, three forced fumbles, one interception and one pass breakup in his first full season as a starter.
“I thought about it and I lodged it in my mind,” Aldon Smith said of not making the Pro Bowl last year. “Starting up this year, I wanted to definitely change the outcome and make it to Hawaii.”
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