Smith continues to earn praise in return

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After his return from a five-game leave from the team -- to get treatment for substance abuse -- pass-rusher Aldon Smith has improved substantially.

Since the playoffs have begun, the third-year linebacker has been nearly unstoppable.

"Teams that want to block Aldon Smith one-on-one are whistling Dixie," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. "Therefore, he's getting quite a bit of double-team chips, help from the backs and the tight ends, and he's really playing well."

Most importantly, Smith is doing well off the field. He went into treatment in September, three days after he was arrested for drunk driving for the second time in less than two years. The latest DUI is still in the courts. Smith is also facing felony gun charges stemming from a 2012 party at his house.

Harbaugh said that Smith has continued to stay on the right track since he rejoined the team in late October.

"I feel very good for Aldon and he's carried the water, the biggest share himself," Harbaugh said. "There have been a lot of people that have helped. He’s got a great family, his mother, father, A-plus, plus. And he's handling his business. We all tend to forget that the reason we got smart is because we learned from our mistakes and that's how you get smart, by learning from your mistakes. He's been really good as a teammate."