49ers trying to improve protection for QB Smith

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Wednesday that quarterback Alex Smith has become "savant-like" in his understanding of the San Francisco 49ers' West Coast system.

But one area where both Smith and the team would like to see the eighth-year veteran improve is in his ability to recognize and elude pass rush pressure.

Smith was sacked twice and hit several other times during his three series of action in last week's 20-9 exhibition loss to the Houston Texans. It brought back visions of last season, when Smith was sacked a career-high 44 times, more than any other NFL quarterback.

Smith has been sacked 179 times in 72 career games, including playoffs, and the 49ers (No. 4 in the AP Pro32) have focused this summer on improving the protection in front of him.

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