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So Far, So Good for Aldon Smith

Posted Aug 3, 2011

He knows he can do better. But if Aldon Smith keeps having days like the one he had on Wednesday, the first-round pick could soon become a valuable contributor to the 49ers defense.

At least that’s the estimation of a key member of the 49ers offense. And it’s likely that similar opinions are being formed as Smith continues to turn heads in his first training camp.

The No. 7 overall pick out of Missouri lined up with the first-team defense on Wednesday and sported a new jersey number while showcasing the talent that made the college defensive end a sought after outside linebacker prospect in the NFL.

Earlier in the day, Smith chose the No. 99 as his NFL uniform number. Later, he made his uniform debut a memorable one.

With veteran Ahmad Brooks not practicing due to an undisclosed injury, Smith took the first team reps at right outside linebacker in team periods.

“I definitely enjoyed it,” the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder said. “It’s an opportunity to hopefully get me a spot on the first team.”

Smith has earned the respect of his teammates by showing a strong work ethic.

In practice, Smith spends a lot of time rotating around the practice fields, as do all outside linebackers. The drill versatility is crucial to Smith as he transitions to a new position.  

In his first week of practices with the 49ers, Smith’s work in one-on-one pass rushing drills has been impressive so far. There, he’s flashed pass-rushing moves that utilize his propeller-like, 83 and 7/8-inch wingspan. Smith also spends time in seven-on-seven periods covering tight ends in passing routes sometimes 20 yards down the field.

Smith’s early practice performances have the caught the eye of one of those tight ends, jack-of-all-trades Delanie Walker.

“Man, he’s doing a great job competing every day,” Walker said of his first-round teammate. “He’s trying to go with the ones and he’s going against (tackle) Joe Staley, (tight end) Vernon Davis and guys like that. He’s trying to get better with his pass rushing, block containment and the dude is a beast.”

Meanwhile, Smith takes a more humble approach to his early success.

“I truthfully think I didn’t do that good,” said Smith at the end of a three-hour practice. “Today was just a chance for me to get better. Every time I’m out there, I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Notes and Quotes

The 49ers announced the signing of four players to the roster on Wednesday. Center Jonathan Goodwin, linebacker Blake Costanzo, cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Madieu Williams were all added to the team. Goodwin's deal is a three-year contract; the other three are signed to one-year contracts. The signees can join their new teammates out at Thursday’s practice, but were unable to practice on Wednesday. Williams said the key until then is to learn as much as possible. “You have to make up for it with film study,” he explained. “That’s pretty much what we’re relegated to do.”

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman addressed the media for the first time of training camp and displayed some quality sound bites from the podium. Asked about his player’s crash-course in his offense, Roman said that his players were invested in the process and taking a lot of notes in their meetings. “I grabbed Vernon Davis’ notebook the other day and it looked like War and Peace, he had so much written down. Guys are really dialed in and that’s what we need.”

Photo of the Day

Delanie Walker’s juggling catch during team period was very impressive and earned photo and play of the day honors. Walker was covered tightly down the field by safety Reggie Smith, but somehow, the 6-foot-0, 242-pound tight end kept his focus on the ball and bobbled it a few times in mid-air, before hauling it in for a 30-yard gain.

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