The San Francisco 49ers have been lucky enough to overtake the rushers over the past decade, with players like Nick Bosa and Aldon Smith wearing red and gold.
While the current era under head coach Kyle Shanahan presented Bosa as a star point guard, the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh had a fierce game changer in Smith. While his poor off-court decision-making has hurt his career to a large extent, Smith’s on-court play in San Francisco has been hugely impressive.
So when 49ers fans started comparing the two recently, fan and analyst @Coach_Yac had to weigh. He loves Bosa as much as the next San Francisco fan, but thinks Smith’s time as the Niner is untouchable.
Smith’s first two seasons saw him rack up 33.5 sacks in 32 games, adding five forced fumbles and 31 tackles for loss for good measure, per PFR. While Bosa’s numbers haven’t hit that high, that doesn’t mean there still hasn’t been some debate among the faithful.
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49ers fan debate
Interestingly enough, much of the debate in favor of Bosa was that Smith had the chance to play alongside Justin Smith during his time in San Francisco.
“Aldon was super good” @Kyle_Beck503 replied. “He also had Justin Smith right next to him, if Bosa had such talent next to him he would have huge numbers too.”
@bigeyed5ish echoed the same sentiment, saying Bosa is double-teamed and plotted against a lot more than Smith was in the early 2010s.
“How did Aldon do without Justin Smith?” says the user. “He didn’t see half the double teams that Bosa gets because they had to deal with the cowboy right next to him. Justin Smith took all the double teams. Aldon was a beast, but I think that he had more help than Bosa.
Meanwhile, some fans seem to be split down the middle, which makes sense. As @rbernard99 points out, both players have their differences that make them great.
Smith supporters took umbrage that the former Missouri Tiger only succeeded because of players like Smith around him.
“49ers fans who credit Justin Smith for Aldon’s success don’t know what they’re talking about,” @AJGullotta said. “There’s a reason Joe Staley and Trent Williams said Aldon Smith was the best they’ve ever faced.”
Bosa vs. Smith
The problem with comparing Bosa and Smith is that Smith’s career-destroying off-pitch issues prompt comparisons of his debut with Bosa’s time so far. When it’s in that range, Smith beats Bosa in almost every statistical category.
Bosa has played 41 games and has 32.5 sacks. In Smith’s first 41 games, he had 40 sacks. In terms of tackles for loss, Bosa is a short, with 42 to Smith’s 43. Finally, on QB total hits, Smith beats Bosa 73-66.
But while Smith has the advantage, the fact is Bosa is right there with the legendary edge rusher. And, really, the comparison between the two really depends on what happens to the young setter here.
If Bosa’s career takes a path like Smith’s, they’ll be even. But if the 24-year-old builds a decade of excellence, there is no doubt that the longevity and impact of a full career will outweigh Smith’s contributions.