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Browns Vs. 49ers: Joe Thomas Facing SF Rookie Aldon Smith

The Cleveland Browns currently have, arguably, the best left tackle in the NFL today. You could also argue that they have the best offensive lineman in the NFL today. That man is, of course, Joe Thomas, franchise left tackle and playing under a seven-year contract worth big, big dollars. The man has surrendered just 1.5 sacks on the season and only gave up four of them last year, where he didn't miss a game.

In fact, he hasn't missed a game in 70 NFL appearances. Teams fail with regularity to rush the passer and put pressure on Colt McCoy from that side of the field, but Thomas will have an interesting challenge on Sunday when the Browns head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. Aside from going up against Justin Smith, which is hard enough on its own, Thomas will also likely see a lot of rookie linebacker Aldon Smith in the 49ers nickel defense.

Smith replaces Parys Haralson in the nickle at the defensive end spot, and might actually see some time standing up if Jim Harbaugh and Vic Fangio want to see what he can do in a bigger role. Either way, Smith has been great in limited time this season and has 5.5 sacks, along with a forced fumble and a safety.

With Peyton Hillis likely missing more time, the Browns are going to look to throw the ball more. If Colt McCoy holds onto the ball for long periods of time, seeing how Smith's battles with Thomas play out will be one of the more interesting things on the day.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.