The injury report calls him doubtful. His head coach has said that he is actually questionable. When the list of inactive players is submitted, he will be characterized as out.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith won’t play tonight in Seattle, due to an elbow injury suffered last Sunday night against the Patriots.
Smith’s status has been cloaked in mystery all week. From the absence of any information about his MRI results to coach Jim Harbaugh’s persistent efforts to create the impression that Smith will play, it appears that the Niners have been trying to dupe the Seahawks into thinking that Smith will be on the field.
The reality is that the 49ers are a different defense when Smith isn’t. It’s no coincidence that the Patriots’ 28-point comeback came when Smith was gone.
Meanwhile, we can only wonder whether the league office will tell coaches moving forward that they can’t officially give one designation to a player on the final injury report and then publicly contradict it.
Either way, a streak of 185 straight appearances for Smith will end tonight. It’s the first game he will miss since a contract holdout in 2001 as a rookie with the Bengals.