In a game where the health of every starter is crucial, the San Francisco 49ers were temporarily without linebacker Aldon Smith due to cramping in the third quarter of the NFC Wild Card Round against the Green Bay Packers.
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported the news via Twitter during the game:
49ers Aldon Smith (cramping) is questionable to return, team reports.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) January 5, 2014
Maiocco also reported the news when Smith returned to the field shortly afterward:
Aldon Smith is back on the field for the 49ers.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) January 5, 2014
It's unknown exactly what the cause of the injury was. However, with the game being played at Lambeau Field in sub-freezing temperatures, according to The Weather Channel, it's likely the cold conditions are playing a factor in the situation.
Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee points out that cramping is a common occurrence in cold weather games:
Common problem in cold-weather games is players don't drink enough fluids. Wonder if that's the case with Aldon Smith.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) January 5, 2014
Smith had already made his mark during the game with a half sack and three total tackles against the Packers. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes that Smith and fellow defender Ahmad Brooks looked better than their opponent early on:
Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith toying with Green Bay tackles right now. They're a good step faster than protection.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 5, 2014
Smith is a crucial part of the 49ers defense despite his troubles earlier in the season. In just 11 regular-season games, Smith finished with 34 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He was the team's defensive MVP during the 2012 season after recording 19.5 sacks.
With Smith returning to the game, it appears the injury has subsided for now. But if there are more updates to report, they will be added to this story.