Improving Aldon Smith still iffy for Sunday's game


SANTA CLARA -- Outside linebacker Aldon Smith put on the pads for practice Monday, but it's iffy whether he'll be available for the 49ers dress rehearsal for the regular season."At the rate I'm going, who knows?" Smith said Tuesday.He sustained a deep right hip bruise in the 49ers' exhibition opener Aug. 10 against the Minnesota Vikings. He spent most of last week hobbling around on crutches.When he went to the practice field Monday, Smith limped through individual drills and did not take part in any team work."I wasn't walking, now I'm walking," Smith said. "So we'll see what happens last week."When asked if he's still bothered, Smith answered, "A little bit."He added, with a smile, "It's really killing me. No, man, I'm all right. I'm healing up fast. I'm on track. I'll be good."The 49ers face the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It's the third exhibition game, the one week in which starters generally see more playing time than in any of the other tuneup games.
Smith was a pass-rush specialist for the 49ers last season, as he played 48.2 percent of the team's defensive snaps. The 49ers decided in his second year that it was best to have him replace Parys Haralson on first and second downs, too.That transition to a full-time outside linebacker role has been interrupted with the 49ers set to open the regular season Sept. 9 at Green Bay."I think everybody needs playing time," Smith said. "Reps are everything. Any time you can get better, why not?"I was feeling good (with the transition). I'm still feeling good. Can't move like I want to, but I'm feeling good mentally and physically, every day is getting better."Smith, who recorded 14 sacks as a rookie, wants to get a chance to play Sunday against the Broncos. Good friend Von Miller, last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, plays for Denver.When asked what he said to Miller in the offseason, Smith said, "I got more sacks than you, Bro."Miller recorded 11.5 sacks, but had 27 more tackles than Smith while starting 15 games."I was happy for him," Smith said. "He got the award. And we talked about it before the season started. He accomplished what he wanted to do, and I think I did, too. So we're both pretty happy with what happened."

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