With LB Aldon Smith on an indefinite leave of absence, 49ers defense moves on to face Rams

Carlos Rogers understands a key piece of San Francisco's defense is missing with the absence of Aldon Smith, yet the veteran cornerback is determined to make sure it never becomes an excuse for the team's recent poor play.

The 49ers are moving forward without their star linebacker and sacks leader as he begins rehab for substance abuse and an indefinite leave from the team.

While everybody in the locker room is rooting for his recovery, his fellow defenders are now focused on getting the most from the guys who will take over for him: Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier, among others.

A defense that has been dominant stopping the run ranks a surprisingly low 29th in the league, with opposing offenses running against the NFC champion Niners at every chance.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org