Aldon Smith shows cobra-like striking ability


Aldon Smith shows cobra-like striking ability

SANTA CLARA -- If you slow down the video of Aldon Smith's last moments before striking, it's still a blur.One scout compares Smith's innate ability to ensnare quarterbacks to a cobra springing forward violently at its prey.Smith, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 7 overall pick from Missouri, is quick off the snap of the ball and has showcased plenty of power, too. But another unique aspect of his game is his ability to quickly finish the job, 49ers director of college scouting Joel Patten said.
Smith lashes forward with uncanny timing to quickly take down quarterback when he reaches striking distance. His burst might be only 6 inches or a foot, Patten said, but it's a unique gift that is rarely seen in players of any experience level.And Patten said Smith's gift is something that usually cannot be detected without the help of slow-motion replays. Patten spoke briefly with CSNBayArea.com on Monday night outside the 49ers locker room after watching Smith turn in another outstanding game.
Smith recorded 2.5 sacks in the 49ers' 20-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had another sack nullified when a 49ers defensive back was called for illegal contact. (Smith shared a sack with Ray McDonald, as McDonald was given credit for a forced fumble on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.)Smith leads all NFL rookies with 13 sacks. Denver's Von Miller is second with 11.5 sacks. Smith is closing in on Jevon Kearse's all-time rookie record of 14.5 sacks in 1999. He has already set the franchise record for rookies, breaking Charles Haley's record of 12 sacks in 1986.Smith has placed himself on the short list of candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. It's an honor that he considers a goal, he said."I hope so," Smith said when asked if he thought his performance Monday won him some votes. "I was just out there playing. If it happens, it happens."His cobra-like striking ability is just one of Smith's many rare pass-rushing attributes. He is listed at 6-foot-4, 258 pounds. His hands are powerful. His arms are long. He has the quickness of a speed rusher. He has deceptive strength that enables him to bull-rush offensive tackles, such as Pittsburgh's Max Starks, who struggled against Smith on Monday."There are some unique things we saw when we were first evaluating him," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "The fact that he could athletically avoid defenders in tight spaces, especially inside the tackles. He showed that at Missouri."The other thing is he was always on his feet. He was rarely off his feet -- even when he was knocked off his feet. He had a way of stopping himself just short of hitting the ground or popping back up like a spring. He's got some real gifts of God."

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.