By Jerrell Richardson
Through the teams first 13 games, Aldon Smith has totaled a franchise-record 19.5 sacks. With three games left in the regular season, he finds himself on the verge of breaking the NFL record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan in 2001. He will only need to average one sack per game, which does not seem out of reach, but will be no cake walk. He will have some things working for him, and a few obstacles to overcome if he hopes to break the 11-year-old record. Here is a look at the teams that he will be looking to make NFL history against.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are going to pass — a lot. Tom Brady is in the middle of another MVP caliber season, and the team has made no secret that they want to pass first, second and if possible third. Brady has attempted a little less then 500 attempts this season, meaning that the game plan is going to call for him to drop back at least 35 times. The bad news is not only does New England have a stout offensive line, they also have a mastermind of a coach who knows how to take away a team’s best player. Look for New England, who knows that Smith is used to also drop back in coverage, to utilize formations that they hope will have him dropping back instead of coming forward. However, based on the sheer number of times Brady will throw, Smith should be able to take him down at least once.
Unlike the Patriots, if the Seahawks have their way, Marshawn Lynch will carry the load and keep the pressure off rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and the passing game. Seattle has a very good team, and the last time the two teams met, the Seahawks were never forced to abandon the run as the score was so close. If the game is as closely contested as the first time, then Smith will be hard pressed to get a sack. If the 49ers can get any separation on the scoreboard, however, Smith will have a much greater chance as Seattle will be forced into more and more passing situations. Even with a nail biter the last time the teams met, Smith sacked Wilson, so his chances of another sack against the Seahawks are good, and could be great.
Even if Smith is blanked against the Patriots AND Seahawks, he will still have the Arizona Cardinals to help him into the record books. Arizona has one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and Smith was able to earn two sacks in their meeting earlier this season. Depending on the importance of this game, the 49ers could let Smith go after the record, and just leave him on the field all game to go after the passer. Even if this game holds some sort of importance for San Francisco’s post season, Smith will still be in a position to record all three on the final day of the season, as he could not ask for a better opponent, other then the Chicago Bears, to help make sure he puts the finishing touches on a great season.
Record Probably Means Wins
It will be great for Aldon Smith to become the NFL’s single season sack king, but the team faces some very important games. It just so happens though that if Smith is able to pass Strahan, it will probably mean that the team is winning, as in the team’s three losses this season, Smith was held without a sack in two of those games. This is due in large put to the game plan of the opponent based on the scoreboard. If he is able to break the record against the Patriots or Seahawks, it will mean the 49ers are either up or within striking distance and the opposition is not running the ball to bleed the clock. Even if Smith falls short, he has his entire career in front of him, and will certainly make another run at the record. When the dust settles on the final play of the season, though, chances are Aldon Smith will have his name at the top of a very prestigious list.
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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 Examiner.com.