Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/13/12
When the San Francisco 49ers travels to New England this weekend, linebacker Aldon Smith's pursuit of the NFL single-season sack record will take a backseat as the team is worried about slowing down Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Some are more worried than others. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio didn't hold back in his compliments of the Patriots offense. "They're not only the top rated offense in the league, they're way ahead of who's in second in all the important stats, too," he said. "It's not like they're just a little bit ahead of team two in a lot of the stats. So, they're very impressive and they have been for a long time with (QB Tom) Brady as the quarterback." Fangio pointed out New England's first down total (361) is by far the most in the league, ranking 42 ahead of Detroit. For comparison, San Francisco's 266 first downs ranks 13th in the NFL. Smith was much more direct in his thoughts of how the 49ers defense stacks up. "We can stop them," he said. Smith has a successful history against New England starting left tackle Nate Solder, dating back to their college careers. When Smith played for Missouri, he had three sacks against Solder, who played for Colorado. "I faced him in college and I know who he is," said Smith, who added it was a favorable matchup for him. "I was able to beat him, yeah." Brady has been sacked just 20 times this year, an impressive number considering his 495 attempts. "They do a good job protecting him, and he does a good job getting rid of the ball," Smith said. "Hopefully we can change that number." New England coach Bill Belichick, like most people around the league, has been impressed by what Smith has been able to do in his second NFL season and first as an every-down player. "Smith has a good combination of skills," Belichick said. "He's strong, he can power rush, he can run the edge, he's quick, he's got a good up and under move, good inside move, good outside move and can run over those guys. That's three pretty good pitches to have right there, hard to block them all."NOTES -- WR Randy Moss had 116 receiving yards at New England in 2005 as a member of the Oakland Raiders. The performance included at 73-yard touchdown reception from QB Kerry Collins. -- S Donte Whitner's first NFL appearance came at New England in 2006. In the same game, he recorded his first interception. -- P Andy Lee's longest NFL punt came against the Patriots in 2008. He boomed an 82-yarder, which ranks second on the franchise's list of longest punts. -- LB Patrick Willis set a franchise record with 22 tackles against New England in 2008. It was his fourth career 20-tackle game. -- WR Mario Manningham's status is in jeopardy because of injury, but if he plays, he'll bring a history of success against New England. On the Giants' game-winning touchdown drive against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, Manningham had three catches for 56 yards.
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