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Aldon Smith to See Increased Workload vs. Saints

Posted Nov 14, 2013

San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio pronounced his All-Pro outside linebacker ready to go for Sunday.

Expect to see a closer-to-100 percent dose of No. 99 on Sunday.

Vic Fangio said Thursday that Aldon Smith’s “workload will be increased” from his 12-snap return to the lineup in the 49ers Week 10 defeat to the Carolina Panthers.

Smith, who said he was physically ready to play more following the game, didn’t record a tackle but his presence was felt when he collapsed the pocket with the help of his fellow pass-rushers.

Whether or not the All-Pro outside linebacker, who had been absent from the team since its Week 4 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, starts on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints remains undecided.

His teammates would welcome him back full-time with open arms.

“We’re going to need a guy like Aldon to be back like he was,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said, “and get pressure on (Drew) Brees.”

Said Brees: “Obviously, he’s a big-time playmaker, and we have to know where he is at all times.”

While not as intimidating off the edge, Dan Skuta and rookie Corey Lemonier had performed well in Smith’s spot while he was away. Skuta (foot) was limited participant in practice on Wednesday.

Their production has allowed Fangio to avoid rushing Smith back into the fold.

“We’re trying to get a nice progressive buildup to him for him to where he comes back and plays more and more,” San Francisco’s defensive coordinator said. “He would have played more last week if the game had been a little different.

“The fourth quarter and you get behind and they were running, we weren’t in sub (package) very much. If we would have kept the lead and those last couple series would have been in sub, he probably would have got the amount of snaps we were looking for, and I think he’s ready this week to get back to playing a lot. And he’ll play a lot this week.”

How much defense end Ray McDonald plays is no sure thing. McDonald, who has been battling a torn bicep muscle, did not practice on Wednesday because of a bum ankle.

One day after McDonald said he was optimistic he could play alongside Smith and against the Saints, Fangio sounded less sure.

“It’s iffy right now,” he said. “He’s made a lot of progress in the last few days, but it’s iffy.”

If McDonald is inactive, rookie defensive tackle Tank Carradine could be line for his NFL debut. Fangio was asked if Carradine was ready to play.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said.

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