49ers notes: Sacks are down, but defense is best in league against the pass

Published: Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8C
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 - 2:30 pm

SANTA CLARA – New faces, inexperienced players, injuries – the Cardinals' offensive line is dealing with all of those issues, and as a result it's on pace to allow the second-most sacks in NFL history.

It's also an opportunity for a 49ers defense that has been playing the pass better than any other unit in the league but without many sacks. Led by outside linebacker Aldon Smith, the 49ers have 11, tying them for 24th in the league.

Even Smith's numbers are down slightly.

He has 5 1/2 sacks through seven games. He had 6 1/2 at this point last season, even though he was a part-time player in 2011 and is a starter this year.

Smith said he might be a little more tired at the end of games as opposed to last season. But he also said he's able to get into a better rhythm and make more plays against the run.

"Selfishly, we'd all like to have more sacks," Smith said Thursday. "But I think teams are little more prepared for us than they were last year. Quarterbacks are getting the ball out faster. All in all, we're hurrying throws and creating pressure, so we're doing our job."

The Cardinals have allowed a league-worst 35 sacks, putting them on pace for 80 this season. That would rank second all-time behind the 1986 Eagles (104). The 1997 Cardinals allowed 78 sacks.

One member of Arizona's line is former 49er Adam Snyder, who is playing the same position, right guard, he played last season with San Francisco.

"Adam has done a good job for us," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He's learning the offense and trying to integrate. He's done a great job with that, and we're happy to have him on our team."

Hate-gate – Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell said he hates the 49ers "with a passion."

The 49ers, meanwhile, had a decidedly milder opinion about their upcoming opponent.

"Hate is a strong word," quarterback Alex Smith said. "I mean, they're a division opponent. There's a lot of history there. We play them twice a year. Great rivalry. Hate is a word I wouldn't use."

Did linebacker Clark Haggans hate the 49ers during the four years he spent with Arizona?

"I hate nobody," Haggans said. "I didn't see that rule over there. But it's going to be fun. It's going to be a physical game. It's 'Monday Night Football,' so it should be entertaining."

Et cetera – Joe Staley missed Monday's and Thursday's practices because of an illness. The left tackle was on hand for the morning walk-through.

• Running back Frank Gore practiced in full despite his sore ribs. Wide receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) also was a full participant.

• John Madden picked the 49ers' offensive line for his weekly Most Valuable Protectors Award, the second time the 49ers have received that honor this season. The 49ers gained 175 yards on the ground last Thursday, although Alex Smith was sacked twice.

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