The 49ers have 15 sacks after nine games and are on pace for 27 this season, which would be their lowest total in a non-strike season since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
But fear not, 49ers fans: Aldon Smith has been working on a few new moves.
The NFL reinstated the outside linebacker and pass-rush specialist Tuesday, and he participated in a walk-through practice as the 49ers began preparing for the New York Giants on Sunday.
Coaches have been vague on how Smith, who has 42 sacks in 43 games since entering the league in 2011, will be used initially, but he said he remains in the best shape of his life after a strong preseason.
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Smith was able to train at the 49ers’ facility during his suspension but could not practice with the team.
“My body feels good, and I’m ready to go,” he said.
Smith, 25, and the 49ers had hoped his nine-game suspension, which was negotiated by the league and the National Football League Players Association, would be shortened by a game or two because of good behavior. Smith said he did everything asked of him, and he also volunteered with children throughout the Bay Area – a Boys & Girls club in Menlo Park, the UC San Francisco Children’s Hospital and the Northern Light School in Oakland.
“Once they were able to meet me and be around me, I changed the way they felt,” Smith said of working with children. “I know I had an effect on a large number of kids and people. I was happy because they had a big effect on me as well.”
Smith, who pleaded no contest to DUI and gun possession charges, did not get his league punishment reduced. Commissioner Roger Goodell also did not appear to consider the six weeks Smith missed last season after his DUI arrest.
“Obviously, it wasn’t (considered) because I wasn’t able to come back early,” Smith said. “But that’s not something that really matters anymore because I’m back, and that’s all that matters.”
Smith said he didn’t want to give “some, whatever, crazy answer” for how he’s changed since his last arrest but “time will show” he’s gotten better.
In addition to staying in shape in the weight room, Smith said he’s gone over game film of other pass rushers and himself. Has he come up with new pass-rush moves?
“We’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll see,” he said with a laugh.
McDonald speaks – Defensive end Ray McDonald spoke to reporters for the first time since his Aug. 31 arrest on suspicion of domestic violence. He learned he would not face charges Monday after the Santa Clara County district attorney concluded there was no evidence to formally charge him.
McDonald’s arrest came during a spate of domestic violence issues for the NFL, and the 49ers were criticized for allowing him to continue practicing and playing with the team and .
“My teammates, my friends, my family, coaches – they know what kind of guy I am,” McDonald said. “That’s why they allowed me to play, and I appreciate them for letting me do that. I’m not the kind of guy that would put my hands on a woman like that. They know that. My teammates know that. My friends know it.”
According to the district attorney’s office, the incident began when McDonald’s pregnant fiancée struck him and he tried to remove her from his home. McDonald said the two are still together and are working on their relationship.
“Because we do care about each other, love each other,” he said.
Running back signed – The 49ers signed veteran running back Alfonso Smith, who spent the offseason with them. The team had just two tailbacks, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, on the roster. The player serving as the de facto third runner, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, suffered a sprained ankle Sunday.
Smith, 27, spent four years with the Arizona Cardinals. He also plays on special teams.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.