Holding Pattern
49ers DE Justin Smith
49ers DE Justin Smith
Associate Editor
Posted Dec 7, 2012

The Dolphins face a tough challenge on Sunday trying to stop pass-rushing extraordinaire Aldon Smith, who leads the NFL with 17.5 sacks. They also need to be ware of defensive end Justin Smith, who has only three sacks on the season but also is a big part of the 49ers pass rush. In more ways than one.

See, not only does Smith have the ability to push back the pocket or get to the quarterback himself, he also has been known to reach out with his free hand when he's engaged with an offensive lineman and hold another lineman to give Aldon Smith a free path to the quarterback.

The move isn't legal, of course, but rarely gets called.

“They never see that, huh?” said Dolphins center Mike Pouncey. “He does a great job, him and Aldon. They play very well together. Obviously they practice that move, with him holding the guard and letting him wrap around and make all the plays. You know what, we’ve got to do a good job keeping him off our body and don’t let him grab us.”

That said, Pouncey plans on making sure before the game that the officials are aware of Smith’s tactic.

“Oh, we’re definitely going to tell them,” Pouncey said. “They’ve been telling them about my snap count, so I’m definitely going to tell them something about them holding.”

For his part, Coach Joe Philbin said he was more concerned about how his offensive linemen block than what the 49ers do with their pass rush.

"I think defensive line coaches across the league have various teaching methods that they utilize to free up rushers," Philbin said Friday. "The big thing that we’re more focused on when we teach pass protection is, a set number one. Getting in good body position between the quarterback and the man you’re responsible for blocking. The second thing is punch. With a punch you’ve got to get separation, and if you get separation with your punch, it’s hard for a defensive player to grab you and restrict your movement.

"So we’re more focused on our technique and getting ourselves (to do) things right from a fundamental standpoint than the opposition necessarily.”

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