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Justin Smith remains limited in practice, but signs point to him playing

Justin Smith AP

If the RG3 knee injury, which came at a time when he clearly shouldn’t have been playing, will spark a culture change in the NFL when it comes to injured players playing, it may take a little while for the shift to begin.

Maybe, perhaps, until God isn’t willing and/or the creek rises.

That likely won’t happen in time to keep 49ers keeping defensive lineman Justin Smith out of Saturday night’s showdown with the Packers as he continues to recover from a torn triceps.

Smith practiced on Thursday, once again on a limited basis.  As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle explains the situation, it sounds like the team will let Smith play if he thinks he can, which sounds a lot like the rationale given by the Redskins for leaving Griffin in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, until multiple ligaments in his knee popped.

“Well, [Smith] told me he’s ready and he’s ready to go,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Tuesday.  “And that’s enough for me.”

On Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh said that, in the end, it’s up to the physicians not the players.  “The doctors are always consulted,” Harbaugh said.  “And the player knows his body the best, but the doctors have final decision.  They’re not going to just let a guy go out and play if he can’t protect himself, or could severely make it worse than what it already is.  That’s a general rule of thumb.”

Still, the players think the doctors will defer to their supposed patients.  “It’s basically us,” tight end Delanie Walker said.  “[The team doctor] will tell you he don’t think you should [play], but if you feel like you think you can, they’d give you the OK.  You know your body better than anyone.”

That’s the common attitude for most NFL teams.  The players want to play, and the team doctors won’t be the team doctors for long if they don’t let the players play when the players want to play.

In Smith’s case, if (when) he plays he’ll be wearing a brace.  Ostler asked Harbaugh how the brace would protect Smith’s damaged triceps muscle.  “At the risk of sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Harbaugh said, “I suggest maybe talking to the brace manufacturer, or to one of our medical personnel or trainers.”

Harbaugh reportedly inserted a long pause before saying “manufacturer,” which created the impression that his response was “talk to the brace.”  As to talking to the team’s medical personnel or trainers, Ostler says the team won’t allow that.

So, yes, we’ll all get more info from talking to the brace.

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7 Responses to “Justin Smith remains limited in practice, but signs point to him playing”
  1. illinininer says: Jan 10, 2013 7:25 PM

    Bias aside I don’t think it’s a comparison. You’re talking about a 33 year old in his 12th season fighting to get a ring on his finger and a 22 year old in his rookie season trying to win a playoff game. As many doubters as the 49ers have, I think the Redskins were a true long shot to win it all with a rookie QB.

  2. favresweiner says: Jan 10, 2013 7:41 PM

    Justin Smith is the single more important player on that defense. If Smith is unable to have an impact, the 9ers defense is going to struggle against Rodgers.

  3. robert831 says: Jan 10, 2013 7:55 PM

    RG3 and Justin Smith are not even close to comparable situations! As the comment above points out it’s one rookie season and the others 12th season. It is also ones knee and the others arm. You can walk without an arm. You can’t walk without a knee! RG3 may never be the same again. Justin Smith may be playing his last season. Flat-out stupid comparison to make.

  4. phelbin says: Jan 10, 2013 8:10 PM

    Justin Smith at 100% occupies three offensive linemen all by himself. So even with only one arm, that’s still like 1.5 linemen…right?

  5. seacab1972 says: Jan 10, 2013 11:51 PM

    Harbaugh is as dumb as Shanahan. Keep trying to pass the buck people. History will be repeating itself.

    A coach needs to have a backbone and prevent a great player from doing worse damage. Of course they want to play. I also get that you want him to play as it gives you the best chance to win, but I think you will want him more next year. Risk it and he might be done all together. I see snake eyes coming on this deal if he does go in.

  6. tramonisland says: Jan 11, 2013 4:07 AM

    Sounds like he’s gonna be completely useless on Saturday night. Music to my ears. #gopackgo

  7. dukemarc says: Jan 11, 2013 1:28 PM

    If he does play and starts his typical holding techniques, the Green Bay O-Lineman should take hold of his injured triceps and give it a good tug. I’m guessing he’ll be less likely to hang on at that point.

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