Linebacker Aldon Smith had the making of an elite pass rusher. Had he stayed out of trouble, his name might have been mentioned with the likes of a Von Miller. He looked that good early on. Smith had 14 sacks during his rookie campaign in 2011 and followed that up with 19.5 the next season.

Off-the-field problems sent Smith's once-promising career spiraling downward. He has not played a game since 2015, and he has been involved in multiple legal issues since.

San Francisco 49ers veteran tackle Joe Staley has battled a lot of great pass rushers in his 12 NFL seasons and remembers Smith's potential. Staley remembers going against Smith early on during the troubled pass rusher's career. Smith struggled in his first offseason with the 49ers, but once things started to click, once he understood what offensive linemen were trying to do, he was a force with which to be reckoned.

As talented as Smith was early on, Staley believes rookie defensive end Nick Bosa is even more skilled.

"The difference is Nick's obviously talented and everything," Staley told Matt Barrows in a recent interview for The Athletic. "But he's so much further along as far as understanding the technical side of the game (than Smith was). They're different players. Nick's really good with his hands, which is a learned skill for a defensive lineman."

As he did years ago against Smith, Staley has been going against Bosa a lot in practices. It's been one of the more intriguing training camp matchups to watch. Even after one outperforms the other, the two can be seen on the sideline hashing out what happened in the matchups. They are learning from one another. The rookie is learning from one of the best blockers in the league, and the veteran is trying to elevate his game by picking the brain of one of the more talented young prospects in recent years.

Staley tells Barrows that Bosa can beat you with his ability to bend the edge and how he uses his hips. He is always moving toward the quarterback.

"A lot of guys (in the league) that win get their sacks — like Von Miller, like Aldon when he was getting his sacks, Chandler Jones — they all win on their second move," Staley said. "A lot of guys win with their counter move, their ability to counter quickly and go toward the quarterback."

Elite college players are used to blowing by offensive linemen with their first moves. They are that much more talented. That doesn't often happen in the NFL. Bosa has already learned that if you don't win with your first move, you have to keep on working to counter what the blocker is doing.

Bosa, of course, has already picked the brain of his older brother and one of the best in the game, Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers. The younger Bosa lived and trained with his brother this offseason, so he was already ahead of most incoming rookie pass rushers.

"He's a lot more polished than a lot of rookies that come in," Staley added. "He comes from a family that understands football and he understands d-line play and is a lot further along with his understanding of the game and what it takes."

"Polished" is the same word general manager John Lynch used over the weekend to describe Bosa while discussing the rookie on NFL Network.

"He's a really good football player, and he's polished," Lynch said. "A lot of guys, even if you pick them at two, there's a getting-used-to period, but he's such a polished football player. He's giving them fits already. It's fun to see a guy like Joe Staley really take to him, and they've been working together. Joe's learning from him, he's learning from Joe, McGlinchey. It's making everybody better."

Click here to read the entire interview over at The Athletic.