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Offense can't operate with Smith under siege

Smith remains healthy despite NFL-high 39 sacks

Alex Smith may not have improved his mechanics enough this year to impress some critics, but nobody can question his ability to withstand the pounding pressure he's encountered during his breakout season. Despite being sacked more times than any other NFL quarterback, Smith has led the way on offense during the Niners' 10-3 comeback season even as the team increasingly struggles to protect him.

Smith has been under siege as of late, just as he was early in the season when he was sacked 14 times in a three-game span during Weeks 2-4. Smith's protection improved drastically after that – he was sacked just seven times in the next six games – but since then opponents have figured out the best way to disrupt an inconsistent San Francisco offense that ranks just 26th in the NFL. And that is...

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