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Aldon Smith forcing way into Defensive Player of the Year conversation

The San Francisco 49ers linebacker now leads the NFL in sacks after racking up 5.5 more on Monday.

Jed Jacobsohn

Everyone in San Francisco knew linebacker Aldon Smith was good at what he does, but on Monday night's 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears the whole nation bore witness as well.

Smith was highlighting the defensive praise following the 49ers shut down of the Bears as the linebacker tallied up 5.5 sacks, seven tackles, two forced fumbles and seven quarterback hits - all done in 48 snaps.

The 49ers first-round pick of the 2011 draft has really come into his own in his second season in the league, and as Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area writes, should be on everyone's candidate list for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Smith was certainly not alone, as far as defensive standouts, but he stood above the rest and should now be considered on any short list of candidates for NFL Defensive Player of the Year with six games remaining.

Smith leads the league in sacks at 15.0 and set the Monday Night Football record for most sacks in a game against the Bears. He has especially turned it up as of late, averaging six tackles and three-plus sacks over his last three games. Smith has 29 total sacks in his first 26 NFL games, the most any player has ever compiled in their career.