EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Aldon Smith may have been essentially shut out on the stat sheet, but the San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro outside linebacker did make his presence felt in Sunday's 16-10 victory over the New York Giants.
In ways that transcends his two quarterback hurries.
Since entering the game in the second quarter, the Giants' third offensive series, Smith basically played the remainder of the game and New York had to account for him, throwing double- and triple-teams at him on occasion.
"I felt good," Smith said. "I started of a little slow and rusty, but as the game went on, I got more comfortable and I was able to go out there and try to just pick up where I left off.
"By the time the third quarter came around, I was feeling good."
Smith, whose 0.98 sacks per game career average entering the game was the best in the NFL since the sack became a stat in 1982, came close to getting Eli Manning a couple of times -- as evidenced by the aforementioned hurries -- but he could not break through.
"It was great," said rookie inside linebacker Chris Borland, who led the 49ers with 12 tackles. "He's a premier pass-rusher and a leader on our team.
"I saw [the Giants] chipping him a few times."
Manning threw five interceptions, after coming into the game with six picks on the season. And the way strong safety Antoine Bethea saw it, Smith's presence may have had more than a little something to do with what Borland referred to as Manning having "happy feet" against the 49ers.
Because Smith did pop Manning hard at least once.
"It was big having (No.) 9-9 out there on the edge and just knowing what type of pressure he can get on the quarterback," Bethea said. "As a DB, that is what you want, being able to look at the quarterback and get some good jumps on the ball."
"I was able to get back there and put some pressure on the quarterback," he said. "As a result, some of those turned into interceptions and forced bad throws. I'm just glad I was able to get out there and help out."