The 49ers are in need of a defensive centerpiece after losing multiple starters in a tumultuous offseason, including leaders Justin Smith and Patrick Willis.
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, an All-Pro sack specialist, believes he can fill that void in spades.
“I know that when I’m playing consistently and I’m on my game, I can’t be stopped,” Smith told the team’s official website.
Smith, one of the NFL’s top pass rushers, has gotten to the quarterback 44 times in just 50 career regular-season games.
Coming off a rough stretch from 2013-14 that saw him miss considerable time due to off-field issues, Smith is looking to bounce back in a big way.
“I don’t think I played to my level, and I want to do everything it takes to play consistently at my level,” Smith said, who only started in 14 games over the past two seasons.
“I feel fast now,” Smith said. “I’ve lost some weight, slimmed up, gotten stronger and it’s shown on the field.
“Really just getting into the optimal shape I want to be in. I want to come in and make sure I’m ready to go.”
Smith, who turns 26 years old in September, received 1-on-1 advice on the practice field from Hall of Fame pass rusher Charles Haley this offseason.
And he’s excited to apply what he’s learned.
“Me and Charles have known each other for a while,” Smith said. “He’s helped me for a while and we finally got out on the field for him to teach me a few things that made him successful. Anytime you can soak up information from a Hall-of-Famer like him, I try to take advantage of those times.”
The 49ers selected Smith in the first round of the 2011 draft with the No. 7 overall pick.
He burst onto the scene as a rookie, recording 14 total sacks as a situational player behind Parys Haralson.
In 2012, he won the job over Haralson and notched 19.5 sacks in his first and only full year as a starter, and was on a pace where he was threatening to break Michael Strahan’s single-season record (22.5).
He has logged 10.5 sacks over his last 18 games played from 2013-14.