Here is the opening to my Thursday column about Justin Smith:

How effective will Justin Smith be on Saturday?

That is the key question facing the 49ers as they prepare for the Packers. If Smith is healthy, the 49ers will have a formidable pass rush and can harass Aaron Rodgers and degrade his passing game. A healthy Justin Smith makes Aldon Smith a better sacker of quarterbacks. If Smith is healthy, the Niners can almost certainly negate the Packers’ run game.

But if Smith is not healthy — if he is not Justin Smith — the 49ers’ defense is no big deal. Think back to the second half of the Patriots game on Dec. 16 and the Seahawks game on Dec. 23 when Smith could not play because he injured his left triceps.

The 49ers really need Justin Smith to be Justin Smith.

To read the full column, click here.

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  1. Alex

    My guess would be that it’s a muscle tear. If it was a tendon tear, I can’t imagine he’d be practicing at ALL.

    In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us open up without him on Saturday, and only put him in if we need a defensive boost.

    We need him fresh as long as possible, and if we can win without him, great, save him for the Championship, or the God willing, the Super Bowl.

    January 10th, 2013 1:20 am

  2. Johnc

    I have played both offensive and defensive end in college and you do more than push with your triceps..you do a lot of pulling as well.
    I bet anything his tendon is torn as well as the muscle. So they will shoot him up with massive amounts of pain killers which will wear off by halftime and he will certainly re-injure the arm. Why can’t the Niners play without him and abandon the “meat on the hoof” mentality? The man needs surgery. They said that a few weeks ago. If they can’t win without abusing an injured player as in the case of the RGIII last week then they don’t deserve to . Putting their hopes on one player is ludicrous. That is where coaching comes in as in the case of Belichek. He would have contempt for the idea that one player determines the march to the superbowl.

    January 10th, 2013 4:16 am

  3. Jumbo Shrimp

    … or the next guy might have been studying what JS does so well (holding) and be ready to step up by now …

    January 10th, 2013 7:44 am

  4. Tiburon Dave

    Brace him up…Tape him up…Shoot him up…

    It’s life in the “do or die” NFL…

    Coach Harbaugh has forced Coach McCarthy to account for Justin Smith in game planning…

    There’s value in that no matter how it turns out…

    January 10th, 2013 8:47 am

  5. Nancy R

    boo boo’s and owees – there’s always something in there to kick start my day with a laugh.

    January 10th, 2013 8:47 am

  6. CohnZohn

    Thanks, Nancy — you just started my day with a blast.

    January 10th, 2013 8:56 am

  7. Larry Rowe

    Cohn what are your perdictions on the game?

    January 10th, 2013 9:46 am

  8. dharte


    I’d be curious of your opinion about the article on Smith/Kaepernick featured at cnnsi.com today:


    The facts of the article are interesting, especially given the sheer amount of nonsense that’s been written about what Smith and Kaepernick are each capable of as offensive leaders of a team challenging for a title.

    Saturday will be the test. Of course the student in the hot seat is Harbaugh, not his green QB. And Harbaugh must be sweating the fact that a loss, at home, to the team Smith beat this season, while outplaying Rodgers in every important category (as the SI writer details at some length) will leave the boy genius little wiggle room for “explanation” at his Monday morning press conference.

    Know you’ll be there with bells on. Enjoy!

    Bill Walsh would have been great to have around these last 10 weeks, wouldn’t he? I can still imagine the glint in his eye if asked about such offensive strategy. I miss him.

    What a contrast.

    January 10th, 2013 9:53 am

  9. CohnZohn

    Larry, I think the 49ers will win a close game, just a better all around team. I’m usually wrong, though.

    January 10th, 2013 9:57 am

  10. Streetglide

    This is why 21st Century football cannot compare with the game of the previous century. The current iteration is too violent and thuggish. Justin needs to sit down, regardless if he thinks he can play…

    January 10th, 2013 12:45 pm

  11. Johnc

    Did Seattle whip the Niners because Justin Smith was not playing.? We are getting all these excuses in advance before Rodgers comes in here and carves up the Niner defense.

    January 10th, 2013 2:07 pm

  12. MJ

    Streetglide…what about this generation is thuggish?

    Especially compared to previous generations. What about guys like Jack Tatum, Matuszak, Ronnie Lott, Bronco Nagurski, Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, Decon Jones, Mean Joe Green, Jack Lambert and Dick Nightrain Lane. You want brutal and thuggish…there you have it, in spades.

    Players now may play at a faster tempo than previous generations but you no longer have head slaps, close-lines, allowed facemasks and various other violent moves, which are now outlawed from the game. The game has become too soft if anything.

    Justin Smith will play if he can, he’s an all timer in that respect, he’d line up across from JIm Otto and play next to Jim Marshall and play with them for 15 years straight, never missing a game.

    January 10th, 2013 5:19 pm

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