When the 49ers selected Missouri’s Aldon Smith with the seventh overall pick in last April’s draft, one talent evaluator wrote that the pass-rush specialist could be an immediate impact player in the right system.
Smith’s combination of speed, moves to get around blockers, upper-body strength and ability to use his hands, wrote Doug Farrar of Yahoo.com, gave Smith “the tools” to be a good player.
Almost nine months later, it’s easy to say Smith’s impact on the Niners was even better than good.
The 6-foot-4 rookie with the wide wingspan is among the top candidates for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award and finished just a half-sack shy of the league’s rookie record of 14½ sacks. And, with 6½ sacks in his final four games, Smith Thursday was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for December.
Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc., wrote for ESPN that Smith, in fact, is his choice for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year – over Denver’s Von...