Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and linebacker Patrick Willis engaged in a friendly game of one-on-one with a miniature basketball at one end of the San Francisco 49ers’ locker room
Across the room, Aldon Smith leaned back on a stool and waved off a suggestion this week’s game against Seattle is any more important than the others on the schedule.
Five days before the 49ers play the Seahawks in a matchup between division rivals, the defending NFC champions couldn’t be more relaxed.
Smith, especially, seems very calm.
After setting the franchise single-season record for sacks a year ago, San Francisco’s first-round pick in 2011 is off to another fast start. He’s also increased his workload and split time on both the right and left side of the 49ers defense in Sunday’s win over Green Bay.
”It was just giving me a chance to move around a little bit,” Smith said Tuesday. ”It gives (opponents) something to game plan for. We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Being able to move around just helps out.”
Smith stayed almost exclusively at right outside linebacker in 2012 when he broke Fred Dean’s 28-year-old team record with 19 1/2 sacks and was voted to the Pro Bowl.
Those numbers, however, are slightly misleading. After defensive end Justin Smith went out with triceps and elbow injuries which forced him to miss the final two regular season games, Aldon Smith’s production decreased significantly.
He was held without a sack over the final three games, then was shut out in San Francisco’s two playoff games and in the Super Bowl.
Both Smiths looked fine in last week’s season-opening 34-28 win over Green Bay. Justin Smith had three tackles, while Aldon Smith had six, including 1 1/2 sacks. He also forced four hurries by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is a completely different challenge than Rodgers.
”We just have to make sure we’re on top of our stuff, defending the run, defending the option, then stopping the pass,” Smith said. ”We’ll make sure we focus on those things so when game time comes we’re ready.”
When asked if it was good that the two NFC West powerhouses, San Francisco and Seattle, were meeting so early in the season, Smith seemed not interested.
”Uh, what about it?” he asked. ”Just another game.”
The rest of the 49ers aren’t so certain.
Rookie quarterback B.J. Daniels is almost certain to take on the biggest role of his young career so far. Daniels, a seventh-round draft pick, is expected to do his best impression of Wilson while running the scout team offense against San Francisco’s defense in practice this week.
Daniels spent the previous week impersonating Rodgers. This time it’s a role he’s more suited for, as both he and Wilson were accomplished running quarterbacks in college.
”There are a lot of guys around the league … that I’ve watched and studied them on film and feel like I have similar attributes to, and he is one of them,” Daniels said.
Notes: Tight end/defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs was removed from the reserve/suspended list and added to the 49ers active roster. Fullback Will Tukuafu was waived to make room for Dobbs.