The San Francisco 49ers have been fortunate when it comes to pass rushers in the past decade, with players like Nick Bosa and Aldon Smith donning the red and gold.
While the current era under head coach Kyle Shanahan has featured Bosa as a star playmaker, the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh had a ferocious gamechanger in Smith. While his poor decision-making off the field harmed his career to a great degree, Smith’s on-field play in San Francisco was wildly impressive.
So when 49ers fans began to compare the two recently, fan and analyst @Coach_Yac had to weigh in. He loves Bosa as much as the next San Francisco fan, but thinks Smith’s time as a Niner is untouchable.
Smith’s first two seasons saw him rack up 33.5 sacks in 32 games, adding five forced fumbles and 31 tackles for loss for good measure, per PFR. While Bosa’s numbers haven’t hit that height, that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t debate among the faithful.
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49ers Fans Debate
Interestingly enough, much of the debate in favor of Bosa was that Smith had the fortune of playing next to Justin Smith during his time in San Francisco.
“Aldon was crazy good,” @Kyle_Beck503 replied. “He also had Justin Smith right next to him, if Bosa had a talent like that next to him, he would have huge numbers as well.”
“How did Aldon do without Justin Smith though?” the user said. “He didn’t see half the double teams Bosa gets, because they had to deal with the cowboy right along side him. Justin smith took all the double teams. Aldon was a beast, but I think he had more help than Bosa.”
Meanwhile, some fans appear to be split down the middle, which makes sense. As @rbernard99 points out, the two players have their differences that make them great.
Those in favor of Smith took umbrage with the idea that the former Missouri Tiger only succeeded because of players like Smith around him.
“49ers fans crediting Justin Smith for Aldon’s success don’t know what the f–k they’re talking about,” @AJGullotta said. “There’s a reason both Joe Staley and Trent Williams have said Aldon Smith is the best they’ve ever gone against.”
Bosa vs. Smith
The problem with comparing Bosa and Smith is that Smith’s off-field problems wrecking his career prompts comparing his early days with Bosa’s time so far. When it’s in that scope, Smith beats Bosa in almost every statistical category.
Bosa has played 41 games, and has 32.5 sacks. In Smith’s first 41 games, he had 40 sacks. In terms of tackles for loss, Bosa is one short, with 42 to Smith’s 43. Finally, in total QB hits, Smith beats Bosa 73 to 66.
But while Smith has the edge, the fact of the matter is that Bosa is right there with the legendary edge rusher. And, really, the comparison between the two is really dependent on what happens for the young pass rusher from here.
If Bosa’s career takes a path like Smith’s did, they’ll be even. But if the 24-year-old builds a decade of excellence, there’s no question that the longevity and impact of a full career will outweigh Smith’s contributions.