SANTA CLARA -- 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said today the status of defensive tackle Justin Smith likely won't be known until later in the week, but he doesn't think Smith's is a long-term injury. Smith, the anchor of the 49ers' defensive line, injured his elbow in the third quarter of the 49ers' 41-34 win over the Patriots on Sunday night and did not return.
Harbaugh said Smith underwent an MRI on Monday and that the injury does not appear similar to that of linebacker Parys Haralson, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve after surgery to repair a torn left triceps suffered Aug. 26.
"But it's really going to be how he is today, tomorrow, Wednesday, before we know anything" about how long Smith might be out, Harbaugh said.
Smith left Sunday's game as the Patriots began their furious second-half comeback to turn a 28-point deficit into a 31-31 game. He was replaced by Ricky Jean Francois, who had one of the 49ers' three sacks of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Harbaugh acknowledged that losing Smith affected on the 49ers' defense -- which had held New England to three first-half points -- but stopped short of naming it the root cause for the Patriots mounting four consecutive touchdown drives.
"I thought the guys that came in stepped in and did some really good things," Harbaugh said. "Ricky Jean did a nice job and I thought our guys stepped up. Like I said, really the chances we had to get off the field didn't come from that position. So we made some errors elsewhere."
* David Akers hit field goals of 20 and 28 yards Sunday night but missed a third attempt from 39 yards, his fourth miss in as many games. Harbaugh stated firmly that the 49ers have "Got to see him make those plays." But asked if he's considering a change at kicker, Harbaugh said he is not.
"Not at this time," Harbaugh said.
Akers is now 25-for-35 on field-goal attempts this season, a 71.4 percent success rate that ranks 30th in the NFL. Sunday's was just the second miss for Akers this season in 20 attempts from 39 or fewer yards. But from 40 yards and beyond, Akers is 7-for-15.
-- Matt Kawahara