With a first round bye in the playoffs, the San Francisco 49ers had three days off from practice and returned to the field on Thursday. The team welcomed back to the field defensive tackle Justin Smith who suffered a partially torn triceps against the New England Patriots three weeks ago. This was the first time since the injury he was back on the practice field.
Smith participated in drills; however, it will be interesting to see how his left arm responds come game time on January 12. Having Smith back on the field for the defense will be a huge advantage no matter who San Francisco faces in the second round. Despite playing with injured triceps and bone chips in his elbow, his ability to take out one and sometimes two offensive linemen, allows the linebackers to rush the quarterback.
The 49ers defense is not the same without Smith on the defensive line. The proof lies in the past two games he missed against the Cardinals and Seahawks. In Week 17 against Arizona, the Niners defense gave up 55 yards to a team who ranked dead last in the league in rushing yards a game. Against Seattle, the defense allowed a whopping 176 rushing yards in the loss. This season San Francisco has a record of 1-3-1 when giving up 100 yards or more. Let’s hope Smith can play.
Here is a video of Justin talking with the media after practice saying he will be ready for the game on January 12.