Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported that San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith underwent surgery this week. Sources also indicate that Smith’s rehabilitation will take roughly three months, meaning it'll be a while before he can get back into the swing of things.
In the Week 15 win against the New England Patriots, Smith sustained a partial tricep tear.
This injury sidelined him for the rest of the regular season, during which time the 49ers went 1-1. The notorious Niners defense did not perform up to standards in his absence, allowing 42 points to the Seattle Seahawks the following week.
When the postseason began, the “Cowboy” saddled up and got back in the trenches, regardless of the injury.
However, he was clearly not at 100 percent, looking to be a shell of himself. Smith was a non-factor against the Packers and Falcons, but had perhaps his worst game against the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) February 4, 2013
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith had negative grades against the run and push rushing. Moreover, this affected the players around him, and thus the team as a whole. The pass defense was not as efficient and Aldon Smith’s sack drought continued.
After having 15.0 sacks in seven straight games leading up to Week 15, Aldon Smith was held without a quarterback takedown for the remainder of the year.
Justin Smith played 89.7 percent of defensive snaps in the postseason after missing the last two-and-a-half games of the season. His impact on this team could not have been more clear than when he was injured.
Even though the 49ers’ greatest strength has been up front, the Niners have to be concerned with the defensive line. Smith, 33, is not going to be around forever, and if this is how the team performs without him, the future of this 49ers defense could be in jeopardy.
Finally, Maiocco reported that Smith should be able to return by the end of the team’s offseason program. He is due to make $8 million in the final year of his contract in 2013. However, this could be the season that Trent Baalke and the 49ers bring in Smith's understudy.