Niners first-rounder Smith still has a lot to learn

Posted Sept. 08, 2011 @ 10:43 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

While the Niners have seen enough flashes of first-round OLB Aldon Smith's potent pass-rush ability not to regret at all deciding to make him their first player off the board last April, we hear it could be awhile before Smith works his way into the starting lineup. "(New defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio has said as much, claiming that he still really needs to learn the position," one team insider said of Smith, who thrived at Mizzou with his hand down in the dirt. "They will try to limit him in man situations, but with the team carrying only three outside linebackers to start the season, he's going to get his share of snaps. They're happy with him as a pass rusher, but his problems in coverage are about what they expected." Another factor holding Smith back as a starter was the strong offseasons turned in by the team's other two OLBs, starters Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson. "Brooks was particularly good," the insider said.