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Healthy Justin Smith Still at Top of His Game

Posted Oct 3, 2014

Through the first four games of his 14th NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle looks as strong as ever. He leads the team with three sacks.

Through the first four games of his 14th NFL season, Justin Smith looks as strong as ever.

After nursing a left shoulder injury all last season, the San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle has wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks – utilizing both arms instead of just one. He has tallied 13 tackles and leads the team with three sacks.

“I can use my left arm this year, I guess that’s a big plus,” Smith said Friday during a rare midweek interview session with the media. “If I can warm up and move good, I feel good I guess… Week in and week out, nobody is going to feel great, but we’ll keep on trucking.”

With Smith as an anchor, the 49ers defense grounded the high-powered Philadelphia Eagles offense in Week 4. Paramount to the unit’s success was applying consistent pressure on quarterback Nick Foles, something the team would like to repeat versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

“You’re always looking to take advantage of some of the protections we’re getting,” Smith said. “We’ve traditionally been a team that doesn’t blitz, and last week we didn’t blitz a bunch. It’s tough to get there, but that’s our formula. As long as we’re getting wins, that’s all we’re about.”

The defense has also improved its ground defense, holding the Eagles to 22 total rushing yards just three weeks after DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys ran for 118 yards against it. The unit enters its Week 5 matchup with Kansas City ranked second in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 69.8 yards per game.

“It’s a matter of settling down and getting into it,” Smith said. “Dallas has continued to be a great running team and it’s a little bit of a tip of the hat to those guys, and we were a little bit off that game – it was a combination.

“It’s tough to stop runners week in and week out. There are a lot of talented running backs and talented offensive lines so we approach it one week at a time.”

Earlier this week, former 49ers quarterback and current Chiefs signal-caller Alex Smith told reporters how strange it was to scout his old teammates. Justin Smith has experienced similar feelings, but the “Cowboy” in him has put the emotional distractions on the backburner.

“We know Alex really well and we have a lot of respect for him,” Smith said. “But it’s one of those deals, it’s the NFL and guys get shuffled around a bunch. I think once the game starts, it’ll be business as usual.”

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