The San Francisco 49ers listed defensive lineman Justin Smith as doubtful for their regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, hardly surprising after it was learned he's dealing with a partially torn triceps tendon in his left arm.
We won't see Smith on the field Sunday, but the All-Pro said he'll be back for the playoffs, even if the 49ers need to play next week. Smith runs the risk of completely tearing the tendon by returning, but he said he'll eventually undergo surgery either way.
"Yeah, I'd be ready to play," Smith said Friday, via The Sacramento Bee. "Just go with it. That's all you can do."
The veteran's absence has coincided with a complete collapse of San Francisco's defense in the past two weeks.
According to The Associated Press, the 49ers have allowed 753 yards, 66 points and 48 first downs in the six quarters since Smith went down against the New England Patriots. Last week, the 49ers were embarrassed in a 42-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, easily the worst defeat of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Could the absence of one interior lineman make that much of a difference? So far, it has.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.