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SANTA CLARA – Defensive lineman Justin Smith got more rest last season. But it wasn’t by design to incorporate more of a rotation on the line, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.
Fangio said Smith’s shoulder injury, which required offseason surgery, was the reason the 49ers went with more substitutions on the defensive line.
“For all you who thought we were subbing him more, and resting him more, it was more of him reacting to the injury and needing more plays off because of the injury he was playing with,” Fangio said Friday.
In 2012, Smith missed the final 2 ½ games of the regular season with a torn triceps tendon. He still was on the field for a total of 77.4 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps for the entire season. Last season, Smith’s playing time dropped to 73.3 percent while playing all 16 games.
Fangio said he could tell Smith was limited due to the injury. Smith’s run defense was not as strong as in previous season, but Fangio said Smith’s play was impacted on run defense and as a pass-rusher.
“Whenever he had to use his arm a certain way, which showed up on run plays or pass plays, it inhibited him a little bit,” Fangio said.