San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is looking to take his game to the next level in 2015 when he enters his fifth year as a pro.
On and off the field, the All-Pro pass rusher has taken advantage of all available resources, most notably Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley.
And a former teammate of Haley's, four-time Super Bowl champion linebacker Keena Turner, has had a front row seat to this blossoming relationship between mentor and protégé.
"He seems to be wide-eyed and all ears when Charles is around and rightfully so," Turner told the team's official website. "Here’s a guy who is going into two Hall of Fames this year and has a resume to back it up. And for Aldon to recognize he can learn something from that guy, it’s pretty cool, and it’s pretty special to watch."
Smith, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound edge player, was a top-10 draft pick out of Missouri in 2011.
In his only full season as a starter, Smith threatened the single-season sack record, recording 19.5 quarterback take downs.
"It’s really cool to see that Aldon has a great respect and appreciation for Charles, and that he feels he can learn something from his tutelage," Turner said, expounding upon the relationship between the two.
Haley is second in franchise history with 66.5 sacks, only behind Bryant Young. Aldon Smith, who has only played 56 less games than Haley, is fifth in 49ers history with 45.0 sacks.
Smith, 25, was the fastest player in NFL history to record 30 sacks.
Smith also ranks in the top-three players in NFL history to record the most sacks within the first three seasons with 42.0 (Derrick Thomas, 1989-91, 43.5; Reggie White, 1985-87, 52.0).
Photo courtesy San Francisco 49ers