Smith was injured during a Week 15 win over the New England Patriots and hasn't practiced since. The Bee reported Smith is likely to undergo offseason surgery, but the 49ers hope he can play through the pain during the team's voyage through the NFC playoffs. Maiocco stated Smith's return hinges on the player gaining strength in the arm.
Losing Smith would be devastating for San Francisco's defense. He is the engine behind a pass rush that has propelled teammate Aldon Smith to 19.5 sacks on the year. The Smith-Smith combination has rocked offenses, but Justin's work has unfolded in the shadows, often freeing Aldon to heat-seek the passer.