Daily Madden: 49er Defense Must Step Up In Smith’s Absence
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The 49ers announced the injury to star defensive tackle Justin Smith is a partial triceps tear, casting serious doubt on his return for the playoffs.
“That’s the one that got (Ravens linebacker) Ray Lewis,” John Madden told the KCBS morning crew. “You know Ray Lewis is a tough guy and he’s going to play if he can and get back, just like Justin Smith is. It’s been awhile (10 weeks) and Ray is still not back. So it doesn’t look good.”
Madden said Justin Smith is difficult to replace.
“The biggest thing that Justin Smith did was allow a push straight up the middle at the quarterback – that’s what drove (Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady crazy… And then his part in those line stunts where the tackle and the end cross – he’s so good at that. He’s the best at that I’ve ever seen in pro football.
“How will his absence affect the 49er defense?
“You just can’t say ‘okay, how will the guy do that we plug in for Justin Smith,'” Madden said. “He has to do something, but he’s not going to be Justin Smith. All the guys around him that are the stars, they have to step up and play like stars.”
If the 49ers beat Arizona and Green Bay loses to the Vikings in Minnesota Sunday, the 49ers get a first round bye. The Vikings need the win to make the playoffs, and John likes their chances.
“That’s always been a tough place for Green Bay to play,” John said. John said Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who needs a little more than 200 yards to set the single season rushing record, will need another big game. “Probably if they’re going to win, (Peterson) has to win the stat battle. They go hand-in-hand… Green Bay isn’t one of those walls of granite that you can’t run on… There’s some running there to be had.” (8:00)
Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM. And catch John’s extra report at 9:15 a.m. Mondays and Fridays during the NFL season.
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