Harbaugh 'not sure' Justin Smith will be available for playoffs

smith_justin_49ers.jpg

Harbaugh 'not sure' Justin Smith will be available for playoffs

SEATTLE -- The 49ers' defense has surrendered nine touchdowns in the six quarters of play without All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith, who missed Sunday's game with a left elbow injury.

Smith is not expected to return for the 49ers' regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, and coach Jim Harbaugh did not sound certain Smith will be available for the playoffs, either.

"I don't know for sure," Harbaugh said following the 49ers' 42-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

Ricky Jean Francois, who started at right defensive tackle in Smith's place, said he is mentally preparing himself for the possibility that Smith will not be back.

"I know he's a big part of our defense," Jean Francois said. "All I can be is Ricky Jean Francois. Would love for Justin to come back, but if he doesn't I'm here to pick up the slack or pick up that space right there."

The 49ers have been a different defense with Smith out of action. The team surrendered 28 points in the second half after Smith left the field due to his injury early in the third quarter of the 49ers' 41-34 win at the New England Patriots last week.

On Sunday, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes.

"I think it's a big deal," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said of Smith's absence. "I think not having Justin is a huge deal. Not only what he does against the run but what he does against the pass. How he helps Aldon (Smith) out there, eating up two guys allowing him to go one-on-one. He's a huge part of this defense.

"He has an injury and we don't have him right now, so all that we can do is for the guys that are in there to back them up and everyone needs to pick up their game and take it to another level. We can't make excuses. We understand we lost this football game. It was an ugly football game, but professional athletes are men of high character. We will bounce back next week."

Aldon Smith has not recorded a sack in the past two games. He was not credited with any quarterback pressures against the Seahawks, who appeared to target Jean Francois in the run game. Lynch's 24-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was right at Jean Francois.

Offensively, the 49ers have injury concerns, too.

Receiver Mario Manningham sustained ligament damage to his left knee while fumbling in the third quarter. He left the 49ers' locker room on crutches. It's uncertain how long Manningham will be out of action.

Tight end Vernon Davis sustained a concussion in the first quarter on a hit from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, who was penalized on the play. Davis did not return to action. He will have an opportunity to clear the necessary tests to play in the regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.

"Vernon told me he had a mild concussion," Harbaugh said.

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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