SANTA CLARA When Aldon Smith played his first game in November, the 49ers' outside linebacker was having a nice season.
At that point, he had 71/2 sacks, which put him behind Houston's J.J. Watt, Denver's Von Miller, Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and Miami's Cameron Wake in the NFL sack race.
The month ends today with Smith at 161/2 sacks, alone in first place and in contention to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
With five games left, Smith has a shot of breaking Michael Strahan's NFL record for the most sacks in a season, 221/2 in 2001.
The league acknowledged Smith's big November on Thursday by naming him the Defensive Player of the Month.
The month included the 49ers' bye week (Nov. 4), but Smith went on such a tear the next three weeks that he was the obvious choice.
It's also worth noting that Smith has been dealing with a shoulder injury and is on the 49ers' injury report. He was listed as "limited" Wednesday and Thursday on the team's practice participation report.
Injury updates Tight end Delanie Walker was back at practice after missing Wednesday's session because of a hip injury he suffered in the fourth quarter Sunday. Walker was listed as limited.
Kicker David Akers was limited because of a pelvis injury, but he seemed to be moving around well at the start of practice. If his injury becomes more problematic, the team would sign either Nate Kaeding or Billy Cundiff to a short-term contract. Both veteran kickers tried out Tuesday.
Amendola update St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola missed his second straight practice Thursday because of a foot injury. However, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the team will prepare as if Amendola will play Sunday. "I have to assume that until I see otherwise," Fangio said.
Rams running back Steven Jackson, who missed Wednesday's practice, was back Thursday on a limited basis. Jackson also is dealing with a foot injury.