Smith's streak in serious jeopardy

Harbaugh on Justin Smith: 'Amazing accomplishment'

Smith's streak in serious jeopardy
December 21, 2012, 3:00 pm
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Justin Smith hasn't missed a start since he was installed as a starting defensive lineman his rookie season in 2001. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SANTA CLARA -- All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith's amazing streak of durability is in jeopardy.

After originally listing Smith as "doubtful" to play Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers upgraded Smith to "questionable" on Friday afternoon despite the fact he did not take part in practice at any point this week. Still, it appears as if Smith will not be available for the key NFC West matchup.

Backup defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, is fully expecting to get his fourth career start with Smith's availability in question. And he spoke as if it's a foregone conclusion that Smith will not play.

"It's just another start," Jean Francois said Friday. "I ain't going to be sitting on the bench, not being able to get in the game. So this week the preparation was a little bit different -- more film, more details on their offense."

Smith sustained a left elbow injury early in the third quarter of the 49ers' 41-34 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night. Smith was unable to return to action, even as his presence was needed with the Patriots rallying to tie the game from a 28-point deficit.

Smith missed the first game of his rookie season after a protracted contract dispute with the Cincinnati Bengals. After entering the starting lineup for the final 11 games of 2011, Smith has not miss another start in his 12-year career.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith's week of work consisted only of rehab, strengthening and conditioning. Smith, who has been selected to three consecutive Pro Bowl, has played in 189 consecutive games, plus three playoff games. His streak of consecutive regular-season starts has reached 185.

"Amazing man, amazing football player, amazing accomplishment," Harbaugh said.

The 49ers filled the final spot on their 53-man roster with the promotion of rookie outside linebacker Cam Johnson from the practice squad. Johnson could be active for Sunday's game with outside linebacker Clark Haggans not expected to play due to a shoulder injury.

49ERS
Questionable: LB Tavares Gooden (ribs), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), DT Justin Smith (elbow), DT Will Tukuafu (concussion)
Probable: K David Akers (pelvis), G Alex Boone (knee), LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (foot), RB Frank Gore (wrist), G Mike Iupati (shoulder), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder), S C.J. Spillman (illness), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)

SEAHAWKS
Questionable: S Jeron Johnson (groin), WR Sidney Rice (knee), CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring), CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Probable: DT Alan Branch (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), CB Richard Sherman (not injury related), RB Robert Turbin (illness), RB Leon Washington (illness)