NEW ORLEANS -- Aldon Smith hasn't recorded a sack since Week 14, but the San Francisco 49ers pass rusher remains central to the team's chances of winning Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
Justin Smith, who's religiously swallowed up blockers alongside Aldon this season, believes numbers alone don't tell the story.
"That's just a straight statistic, but what you don't always see is teams play us a little bit differently," Justin said Sunday night after the 49ers arrived in New Orleans. "Quarterbacks drift on us a little bit more, and we've been playing some really good quarterbacks in (Matt) Ryan and (Aaron) Rodgers. They're timing guys. They're getting rid of the ball quick. They do their job really well, as well, so it makes our job a little bit tougher."
Numbers, in this case, are deceiving. Aldon didn't record a sack against the Atlanta Falcons, but ProFootballFocus.com tracked him with seven quarterback pressures against Ryan in the NFC title game. Aldon's 19.5 takedowns didn't happen by accident this season, but he's been relatively quiet on paper since Justin suffered a partially torn left triceps against the New England Patriots in Week 15.
Justin is still playing through the pain of that injury and acknowledged Sunday he can't do everything he wants to on the field. We saw the 49ers perform well against run in the win over the Falcons. The pass rush, meanwhile, might not be the dominant machine it was earlier in the year, but Smith and Smith can't be far from Joe Flacco's mind.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.