Jim Harbaugh likes to employ the word “ascending” when discussing the 49ers improving players.
But what word fits
Since San Francisco drafted the Missouri-bred defensive end and turned him into an outside linebacker in 2011, Smith has recorded 33.5 sacks in 32 NFL games.
And, as Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News notes in his feature story, Smith doesn’t turn 24 for another 22 days.
How much better can Smith be? How much more can he contribute to a team that has made consecutive trips to the NFC Championship Game?
Harbaugh, who came to the 49ers the same year as Smith, also likes to talk about getting a “mile per hour faster” each day.
How much faster can this speedy but powerful pass-rusher get? How much of a chance does he have at a 20-sack season?
If Smith’s third pro campaign – his second as a starter – is about anything in particular, ascending isn’t it. He has already ascended to a Pro Bowl level.
So maybe Smith should be shooting for something else. Maybe his word his “sustaining.”
He’s young for a veteran, sure, but that’s just what Smith seems to be.
For more storylines surrounding the team, check out this edition of Morning Tailgate links.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about the team’s trade of linebacker Cam Johnson.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com counted the 49ers opportunities in the 2014 NFL Draft.
49ers.com has San Francisco’s in-progress practice squad.
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Quinton Patton(@PattonBoy_11) September 2, 2013