49er says team didn't target Big Ben's ankle

San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith told the Sacramento Bee that the 49ers weren't targeting Ben Roethlisberger's injured ankle in a Dec. 19 game.

"Our goal was to win the game," said Smith, who had 2.5 sacks that game. "We don't go out and talk about hurting other players, their ankles, or injuries or any of that. We were going out to win the game. The quarterback, he controls the game. So if he got hit, it happens."

While no one expected any of the 49ers to admit they went after Roethlisberger's ankle, Smith's defense is supported by the research done by my NFC West colleague Mike Sando, who found no evidence of it when he reviewed every Steelers offensive play from that game.

Roethlisberger never accused the 49ers of putting a bounty on him, but the Steelers quarterback did suggest this month that San Francisco was targeting his injured ankle.

When asked about the last time he felt a team was going after his knees, ankles or head, Roethlisberger said on "The Dan Patrick Show" on May 10: "Um, wow, that's tough. I don't really complain about that stuff, either. But I think when we played San Fran, I felt like there were some things going on, some extra ... "

The Sacramento Bee pointed out that the 49ers' defense was penalized three times in that game, and none involved a hit on Roethlisberger.