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49ers notebook: Aldon Smith's 5.5 sacks set Monday night record

49ers linebacker Aldon Smith (99) sacks Bears quarterback Jason Campbell on Monday.

JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — While Colin Kaepernick was redefining the 49ers offense, Aldon Smith was almost singlehandedly destroying the opposing offense. Smith had 5½ sacks — most ever by a player on “Monday Night Football” and second in franchise history behind the six that Fred Dean collected against the Saints in 1983.

“I think I have a thing for night games,” Smith said. “I love playing at night. I love the lights.”

Smith victimized offensive tackles J’Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi, and anyone else the Bears tried to block him with. Sometimes it seemed they weren’t trying to stop him at all. The second-year rush specialist alternately used his strength and bursts of speed to terrorize Jason Campbell.

Smith’s final sack was in the end zone, and resulted in a safety after the ball came free.

Even when Smith wasn’t sacking Campbell, he was making his presence felt. On one play, he came on a stunt and rushed the quarterback into a high throw that safety Dashon Goldson intercepted.

Smith finished the game as the NFL’s sack leader, with 15. He now has 29 sacks in his short career. Only Reggie White (31) and Derrick Thomas (30) had more in their first two seasons. Both of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

AND THESE WERE THE REAL REFS

The strangest moment of the night came with 9:38 left in the game when those two bullying Smiths — Aldon and Justin — converged on Campbell from different directions on third-and-28 and hit him in the end zone, jarring the ball loose. Bears guard Chilo Rachal, the former 49er, scooped the ball and sort of tossed it out of the end zone, where a mad scramble ensued.

Officials first signaled an incomplete pass. That didn’t make sense, of course, because Rachal had no real intended receiver. They changed it to intentional grounding, marking the ball inside the 5-yard line.

The 49ers challenged, figuring that Rachal was in the end zone when he grounded the ball, meaning the play should have been ruled a safety. Upon review, Tony Corrente’s crew finally got it right: Rachal’s knee was down in the end zone before he unloaded the ball. It was a safety for the 49ers, their first since Aldon Smith sacked Detroit’s Matthew Stafford in the end zone on Oct. 16, 2011.

ALL-STAR SUPPORTING CAST

Before the game, the 49ers honored Y.A. Tittle, team president Jed York presenting the former quarterback with the red jacket that symbolizes his enshrinement in the 49ers Hall of Fame. Tittle, 86, played in San Francisco from 1951-1960, passing for 16,016 yards and 108 touchdowns.

He wasn’t the only former 49ers great in the stadium. Steve Young was part of the ESPN crew for the game, and Jerry Rice showed up, too. The NFL’s all-time leading receiver sprinted up and down the field in a gray suit and sneakers before the game, and caught a pass from Young in the end zone — after uncharacteristically dropping the first try.

EXTRA POINTS

Devin Hester, the Bears’ dangerous return man, had minus-1 yard on three punt returns. He ran backward on one try and lost 9 yards — with a very generous spot from the officials.

The 143 total yards surrendered by the 49ers represented a season best.

TE Vernon Davis’ six catches were the most he’s made this season.

WR Kyle Williams caught a career-long 57-yard pass from Kaepernick.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.

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