Smith posted 19.5 sacks in the first 13 games of 2012. It was the most sacks through a team’s first 13 games in NFL history. The 49ers starting outside linebacker, however, did not record a sack in the final three regular season games or in the team’s three postseason games.
The shoulder injury which was fixed with offseason surgery appears to be a thing of the past.
“I really didn’t get a chance to heal up, but I’ve had this offseason and I’ve done a lot to get back to where I was and get better,” Smith said on Sunday.
San Francisco’s sack master and Bill Walsh Award recipient for being the team’s MVP, looks like he’s been able to get back to his disruptive ways in the first week of training camp.
[ PHOTOS - TRAINING CAMP ]
Smith remains a problem for opposing tackles and has spent a great deal of time making his way in the backfield on most passing downs.
Entering his third season, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound linebacker also has lofty goals in mind. Smith wants to improve his sack total and more importantly, he wants to break Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22.5 sacks.
Smith has posted 33.5 sacks in two seasons, the most by any player in his first two years in NFL history. He also owns the 49ers single-season sack record and the most single-game sacks in “Monday Night Football” history when he dropped former Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell 5.5 times last season.
Smith believes his approach this offseason will allow his play to continue ascending.
“I think just the consistency, the way you take care of your body, your time management,” Smith said when asked about what he’s learned in two-plus years with the 49ers. “You can treat yourself like you want to play for three, you can treat yourself like you want to play for 13, so that’s what I’ve learned.”
The 49ers linebacker is using camp to work on the little parts of his game. Footwork and dropping into coverage remain a key emphasis for Smith this offseason.
“I’m hard on myself, to someone it might look like I might not need to improve on a lot, but to me, I need to improve on a couple of things,” Smith said.
In the long-armed linebacker’s mind, working on those details will help his sack numbers improve and possibly break more records.
It also helps that
“He’s looking pretty good,” Aldon Smith said before noting that the pass-rushing duo on the left side of San Francisco’s defense is working well together in camp.
Aldon Smith felt the pressure of extra attention without Justin Smith in the lineup, but knows it won’t be that way to start 2013.
“There were double- and triple-teams at times and of course not having Justin beside me, they have a lot more attention they can focus on me,” Smith said.
“Seeing the pace I was on, I think any team wouldn’t let me set the record on them or let me get sacks on them because it wouldn’t look good.”
Now that both Smiths are fully healed, the outside linebacker is out to be an even better disruptive force. If all goes well, it will be at a record-setting pace.