49ers linebacker Aldon Smith celebrates a sack (USA Today Sports Images)
San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Aldon Smith is approaching former New York Giants and current Fox pregame panelist Michael Strahan's single-season record for quarterback sacks. Smith needs just three sacks in the final three games to equal the mark, which he is commemorating by donating $5,099 (Smith wears No. 99) for each sack he achieves to the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco (Willy Mays Clubhouse at Hunters Point) and Boys & Girls Clubs of The Peninsula (East Palo Alto Clubhouse).
"I am excited to be able to give back to my community," Smith said in a release from the 49ers. "Now, in addition to playing to win games, I am playing to raise much needed money for a great organization that makes a huge difference in the lives of millions of young people."
With 19.5 sacks, Smith's current donation total is $99,430.50, which is already a considerable portion of $1,028,818 base salary that the No. 7 overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft is earning this season.
"We are thrilled to be Aldon Smith's charity of choice and greatly appreciate his generosity," said Rob Connolly, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco. "Donations like these help support the children and teens in our communities who need us the most — keeping them safe, academically focused, physically and emotionally healthy and equipped with job-readiness skills."
Can Smith get there? Well, J.J. Cooper of Football Outsiders debunks the myth that Smith's lofty sack production is based solely on his speed or by running stunts with All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith, but getting to 22.5 will not be easy. Smith's next opponent, the New England Patriots, are No. 2 in Football Outsiders' "Adjusted Sack Rate" and the second opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, have a rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, who is adept at avoiding pressure.
Fortunately for Smith, and the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Bay Area, whether or not the record falls and Smith's donation total increases could be determined by the Arizona Cardinals, who have allowed a league-high 51 sacks through 13 games and currently have rookies starting at quarterback, center and both tackle positions. That is a roster management equivalent to Brett Favre taking a dive that allowed Strahan to set the current mark.
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