José Luis Villegas / Bee file, 2012

Aldon Smith, celebrating a sack in January's NFC title game, will try to pressure Matthew Stafford on Sunday.

Aldon Smith's long wait continues

Published: Saturday, Sep. 15, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Saturday, Sep. 15, 2012 - 12:21 am

SANTA CLARA – One of the 49ers' offseason story lines was how Aldon Smith, who was used primarily as a situational pass rusher a year ago, would adjust as an every-down outside linebacker this year.

After one regular-season contest and a slate of exhibition games, we're still waiting for the answer.

Smith missed all but a few snaps of the preseason after suffering a hip pointer in the first game. And he was in his familiar role as a pass-rushing defensive end Sunday against the Packers. Green Bay used three and four receivers so often that the 49ers were in their nickel and dime defenses virtually the entire game.

Still, it was Smith's first NFL start, and he played 60 snaps.

"My cardio's good; I'm in shape," he said this week. "I didn't have any problem playing the whole game."

On Sunday, Smith will face a familiar foe. When the 49ers and Detroit Lions met in Week 6 last season, San Francisco's starting right outside linebacker, Parys Haralson, injured his hamstring and sat out the second half. That gave Smith the most snaps – about 40 – he played during his rookie season, and he made the most of the opportunity.

He finished the game with two sacks, forced a Matthew Stafford fumble and was credited with a safety. Like the Packers, the Lions prefer to throw the ball. Smith and the 49ers mostly were in their nickel defense last year, and they figure to be in that alignment Sunday at Candlestick Park.

Smith's first game as a true outside linebacker likely will come Sept. 23 against the Vikings and running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. Smith injured his hip against Minnesota in Week 1 of the preseason on Aug. 10.

Smith set a franchise rookie record in 2011 with 14 regular-season sacks, recording his first one in a Week 4 win against Philadelphia. He already has one this year, although it was followed by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when Smith flipped off his helmet following the play.

Smith insisted the helmet already was coming off after it was struck, then was popped up by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' heel as the two were going to the ground. The NFL did not fine Smith for the infraction.

Injuries – Neither wide receiver Ted Ginn (ankle) nor running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) practiced this week, and both are unlikely to play against the Lions. Both are listed as questionable – meaning there's a 50 percent chance they'll play – but that also was their designation last week, when neither played.

If Ginn is out, Kyle Williams will make his 2012 Candlestick Park debut as a punt returner. Cornerback Perrish Cox will be the backup.

The Lions' secondary, meanwhile, limps into Sunday's game. One starter at cornerback, Bill Bentley (concussion), has been ruled out.

Two other starting defensive backs, cornerback Chris Houston (ankle) and safety Louis Delmas (knee), are listed as doubtful. Starting defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee) is questionable, and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (foot) is probable.

Et cetera – Randy Moss' 47 receiving yards against the Packers put him in fifth place in all-time receiving yards with 14,905. With 30 more yards, he would pass Tim Brown for fourth place all time.

• Seattle signed former 49ers offensive lineman Mike Person to their practice squad. Another ex-49er, center Chase Beeler, was released from the Eagles' practice squad.

• The 49ers haven't lost a home game in regulation since Nov. 21, 2010, a 21-0 decision against Tampa Bay.

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Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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