CULVER CITY, Calif. -- A season in which you finish with 19.5 sacks never can be deemed a failure.
Still, Aldon Smith's 2012 campaign with the San Francisco 49ers ended on a bittersweet note. He accumulated that number of sacks in only 13 games, then got shut out from Week 15 straight through Super Bowl XLVII.
Much of that can be contributed to a bad shoulder that required offseason surgery. The late-season absence of Justin Smith didn't help. When Around The League sat down with Aldon on Thursday at NFL Network studios, we asked him how much the injury affected him.
"I'm a tough dude. Honestly, I'm able to fight through a lot of things that I think might hamper other people," Aldon Smith said. "It was there and it affected me, but it is what it is."
Smith said his slump in production went back to a "number of things," including changes in how teams attacked the Niners' front line. Smith said the opposition will "be at a disadvantage" if they consult the tape and do the same things again.
Smith might be the player best suited to topple Michael Strahan's single-season sack record of 22.5, set in 2001. We asked Smith how much that drives him.
"It's a goal, but I'm not punching myself in the face at the end of the season if I don't get it," Smith said. "I'm young, and I'm learning a lot and I'm getting better. My goal is really just to get better every year. As long as I do that, if it was 14, then 19.5, at that rate it should keep going. Hopefully, I should be able to trump that record and keep going."
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.