Justin Smith said today that he'll be "ready to roll" even if the playoffs begin next week for the 49ers. "Yeah, I'd be ready to play," Smith said during a brief interview at his locker, his first since Dec. 16. "Just go with it. That's all you can do."
Smith suffered a partial tear of of his left triceps tendon nearly two weeks ago during a win over the Patriots. He hasn't practiced since, but he said the injury has been healing on its own and that he has felt stronger as time goes on.
The four-time Pro Bowler risks a complete tear of the tendon - which would put him out of action for good this year - if he plays. But that's a risk he's willing to take. "They can fix just about anything nowadays, so they told me," he said. "Yeah, you've got to have surgery regardless."
Asked the same question today, Jim Harbaugh acknowledged the gamble. "Yes, I think there's a higher risk," he said. "It's something that he'll have to have surgically repaired at the end of the season either way."
Because of that risk, Smith is unlikely to play in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Cardinals and is listed as doubtful on the injury report. Smith and the 49ers also would be greatly aided by an extra week of rest, which they'd get if they secured the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC. They're currently in the No. 3 position and only would move up with a win coupled by a Packers loss in Minnesota.
Smith said he'd be able to play next weekend regardless. "Yeah, it's definitely getting better," he said. "I'll be ready to roll."
- Matt Barrows