49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

December 23, 2012
Justin Smith inactive; Richard Sherman starting for Seahawks


Justin Smith's consecutive starts streak will end today.

The 49ers defensive end is inactive for the game against Seattle. Ricky Jean Francois will start in his place, his first at right defensive end this year. Jim Harbaugh hinted all week that someone as tough as Smith (elbow) might end up playing. However, it was significant that Smith tried to return to last week's game after leaving in the third quarter but could not.

Smith had started 185 straight games. His availability for next week's finale also is in question. An ESPN report today said the 49ers were hoping he might be back for the playoffs.

Nose tackle Ian Williams is active for the first time this year. That will free Isaac Sopoaga to play defensive end in a pinch. Will Tukuafu, who has recovered from a concussion suffered a week ago, also is available at both end and nose tackle.

Like Smith, Clark Haggans (shoulder) missed practice throughout the week. Rookie outside linebacker Cam Johnson was elevated from the practice and is in uniform today. Johnson is wearing No. 50. Mario Manningham is active after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. That means rookie A.J. Jenkins is inactive.

The other 49ers' inactives: Scott Tolzien, Trenton Robinson, Jewel Hampton and Joe Looney.

For the Seahawks, cornerback Richard Sherman is in the lineup having a hearing over his possible suspension late last week.

The other 49ers' inactives: Tolzien, Jenkins, Robinson, Hampton, Haggans and Looney. Manningham and Cam Johnson active. At the other cornerback spot, rookie Jeremy lane will start for Walker Thurmond. In addition, rookie J.R. Sweezy is a surprise starter in place of John Moffitt at right guard.

The other Seahawks inactives: CB Marcus Trufant, CB DeShawn Shead, G Rishaw Johnson, T Mike Person and DT Jaye Howard.

After holding off all day, the rain started to fall about an hour before kickoff. It's about 44 degrees, eight degrees warmer than it was last week in Foxboro, Ma.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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