Wednesday, February 6, 2013
49ers' roster depth on defense
By Tom Carpenter
Justin Smith is slated to undergo surgery to repair his torn left triceps and will require three months of recovery time. It appears that he should be fine for the start of next season, but the injury raises concerns about way the San Francisco 49ers handle their roster going forward.
Smith is 33 years old now and had played 185 straight games before being felled by the injury, and he's not the only aging 49er with a lot of mileage on his body. That's why ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando thinks the Niners may have to infuse some more depth to their roster on defense:
Mike SandoWhy 49ers might have to adjust approach
"Ray McDonald, Smith's teammate on the defensive line, was one of three NFL defensive linemen to play at least 90 percent of his team's defensive snaps during the 2012 regular season. Smith would have pushed for a spot on the list if an arm injury hadn't forced him to miss time. Even with the injury, Smith ranks among the NFL's top four defensive linemen in total snaps logged over the past two seasons, counting playoffs. McDonald is also on the list. The 49ers' defensive players have logged high miles over the past two seasons. The team relies upon a smaller number of defensive players than most teams in part because their inside linebackers, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, stay on the field for passing downs. That is only part of the story. With Smith and the 28-year-old McDonald playing so extensively for a team that has also played five postseason games over two seasons, the 49ers could clearly use a depth infusion up front on defense."