San Francisco 49ers defensive end Justin Smith will likely play in the NFC Divisional playoff game on Saturday vs. the Green Bay Packers after head coach Jim Harbaugh listed all of his players as probable on the final injury report.
The veteran suffered a torn triceps in a Dec. 16 41-34 win vs. the New England Patriots. He tried to play through the injury, but was forced out of the game before the Niners hung on in a hostile environment. The 49ers are 1-1 in the two games Smith has missed, and his absence has been apparent in each of those contests.
Linebacker Aldon Smith has suffered the most with Smith’s missed time and has not recorded a sack since after totaling 19.5 sacks with Justin Smith creating seams to the quarterback. Without the veteran, the Niners have looked like an average defensive team and struggled to get off the field and rush the passer.
Smith will be key in disrupting the rhythm of Aaron Rogers, who has led the Packers back to the playoffs behind another stellar season. Though the probable tag doesn’t ensure he’ll play, it’s hard to envision any scenario at this point where he sits out against the Packers.
Whether or not he’ll be effective or not remains to be seen. Without question, he’ll be at risk for further injury if he plays, but his presence inside has been a difference maker for San Francisco all season long.
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