In the Divisional Round of the NFL post-season tournament, the San Francisco 49ers travel to Carolina to take on the No. 2 seed Panthers. Wide receiver Steve Smith, who has not played for the Panthers since Week 16, said on Monday he plans to be on the field Sunday to take on the 49ers.
Smith strained his PCL in his left knee on December 22 in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints. He has not played in a game since suffering the injury. Despite having three weeks to heal, the wideout didn’t sound too confident he would be effective against the Niners.
It’s not about, ‘Can I go?’ It’s ‘how confident do I feel when I am going? I will play Sunday. It’s about how much of that do I don’t worry about the knee. That’s when the confidence increases. ~ Steve Smith
This season, Smith was second on the team in receptions (64) and receiving yards (745) to go along with four touchdowns. Against the 49ers in Week 10, he was targeted 11 times and led Carolina with six catches for 63 yards. On Wednesday, he plans to be on the practice field for the first time since the injury.
I did a good job today [Monday], so we’re going to see how tomorrow goes and I’ll be practicing on Wednesday. Just got to build up that muscle memory. Had that fluid [in the knee]. The injury caused some kind of trauma in there, so just trying to work through that.
I should be fine for Sunday, though.
Even if Smith is not 100%, he will still be a threat the 49ers have to account for if he is on the field. QB Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers offense is not the same without Smith and they struggle with him on the sidelines.
At Carolina’s light workout on Monday, running back Jonathan Stewart (knee), tight end Ben Hartsock (knee), defensive tackle Colin Cole (calf) and safety Quintin Mikell (hand) did not participate. Head coach Ron Rivera said he expects all of the players to play on Sunday.