Niners' Smith says he's on the mend

Published: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 - 11:49 am

SANTA CLARA – Justin Smith said Friday he'll be "ready to roll" even if the playoffs begin next week for the 49ers.

"Yeah, I'd be ready to play," the defensive end 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 his left triceps tendon nearly two weeks ago during a win over the New England Patriots. He hasn't practiced since, but he said the injury has been healing on its own and that he's felt stronger as time goes on.

The four-time Pro Bowl player risks a complete tear of the tendon – which would put him out of action for good this season – if he plays. 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, 49ers coach 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 Arizona Cardinals and is listed as doubtful on the injury report.

Smith, 33, and the 49ers also would be greatly aided by an extra week of rest, which they would 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 Green Bay loss in Minnesota.

Smith said he'd play next weekend if the 49ers don't get the bye.

"Yeah, it's definitely getting better," he said. "I'll be ready to roll."

The 49ers on Friday also brought in reinforcements at Smith's position by promoting rookie Tony Jerod-Eddie from the practice squad. Jerod-Eddie will fill the roster spot that opened when wide receiver Mario Manningham went on injured reserve with a torn ACL in his knee.

The team had contemplated adding one of two practice-squad wide receivers, Chad Hall or Ricardo Lockette, but felt that Jerod-Eddie would have a bigger impact both at defensive end and on special teams.

Backup defensive lineman Will Tukuafu is listed as questionable on the injury report with a neck injury. Tukuafu left Sunday's game in the third quarter and did not return. Another backup lineman, Demarcus Dobbs, went on injured reserve earlier this month with a knee injury.

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