Many members of the media and fans would say the most valuable defensive players of the year are Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith or Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller.
Sometimes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. 49ers defensive end Justin Smith’s absence due to injury may demonstrate his crucial role in one of the league’s top defenses.
According to Matt Barrows of the The Sacramento Bee, a source with knowledge of the injury claims Smith partially tore his left triceps against the Patriots two weeks ago. Barrows also reports that Smith’s injury is similar to teammate Parys Haralson’s. Haralson suffered his injury in a preseason game against the Denver Broncos and was placed on injured reserve.
There seems to be a good possibility that Justin Smith will face the same season-ending fate heading into the playoffs.
Without Smith, they blew a 28-point lead in New England and allowed Seattle to dominate for 35 points (not counting Richard Sherman’s TD return) and 176 yards rushing. Aldon Smith, who is second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks, has no sacks since Justin Smith’s injury.
If Justin Smith’s triceps injury is severe enough to end his season, it is hard to imagine the 49ers making a run to win this season’s Super Bowl. Lingering questions at quarterback already made many doubt them.
Their strength this year has been their juggernaut defense. Without Justin Smith, that juggernaut defense looks like a liability.