Jim Harbaugh made his weekly appearance on KNBR 680 this morning and was asked by host Paul McCaffrey whether defensive end Justin Smith would take part in practice this week. Smith left Sunday's game in the third quarter with an arm injury, tried to return to action but could not. Smith had an MRI Monday.
Here's an optimistic Harbaugh:
"Well, you know his nickname is Cowboy," he said of Smith. "Everybody affectionately refers to Justin Smith around here as the Cowboy. So, I expect we'll see the Cowboy. Knowing what I know of Justin Smith and the situation, yeah, I think the Cowboy's going to be saddled up. ... Ropin' and ridin'! ... If it's humanly possible, the Cowboy will be out there ropin' and ridin'."
Harbaugh also was asked about rookie LaMichael James' performance against the Patriots.
"Not perfect by all standards," he said. "I saw a few cuts that maybe he'll learn from and make improvements on as we go forward. But, boy, all in all, what he gave us in the kick-return game - and not just the big 62 yarder -- but he had another one in there for about 34 yards, held onto the football, got extra yards after contact. He's been a very good complement to Frank Gore."
The 49ers can clinch their second straight NFC West title Sunday with win over Seattle. They can clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with either a win over Seattle and a Green Bay loss/tie or a tie vs. Seattle and a Green Bay loss.
- Matt Barrows