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Morning Tailgate: D-Line in Shape

Posted Sep 10, 2013

Justin Smith's triceps injury seems like it happened so long ago.

Remember Justin Smith’s triceps injury?

It seems so long ago.

The 49ers All-Pro defensive tackle returned to form in San Francisco’s Week 1 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Smith routinely collapsed the pocket on Aaron Rodgers and remained a dominant force in the run game. The 13-year veteran was credited with three tackles.

Smith used the offseason to recover from offseason triceps surgery and showed no signs of slowing down against the Packers. The injury was key last season. It caused him to snap a 185-game consecutive start streak. Smith missed two regular season games, beginning in Week 16 of last season, a 49ers loss to the Seattle Seahawks.


The 49ers, however, return to Seattle this week with Justin Smith in the lineup.

Smith’s presence is a boost to San Francisco’s starting front seven. In particular, Jim Harbaugh praised the defensive line for being in tip-top shape against Green Bay.

“One thing I would like to highlight and compliment our guys on was their conditioning, their sustenance through the entire game,” the 49ers coach said on Monday. “Mark Uyeyama, our strength coach, and (assistant strength and conditioning coach) Kevin Tolbert do a great job, this offseason and in training camp. That was a hot day out there. There was a lot of plays, no-huddle, hurry-up offense, etc., and I thought our defense played at a high level the entire game.”

Harbaugh pointed out that five of Green Bay’s 13 drives were three-and-outs. On three other occasions, the Packers had short possessions that led to punts.

“That was a real positive,” Harbaugh said. “I thought our conditioning was a real positive for us.”

The 49ers defensive line rotation will be strengthened this week with the return of Demarcus Dobbs, who is expected to be activated from the suspension list. Dobbs will return to meetings on Tuesday and will practice this week.

San Francisco spent much of Week 1 in nickel and dime personnel, but when in the base, 3-4 alignment, Harbaugh was pleased with the outing. It was also nose tackle Ian Williams’ most signigant action in his three-year career. Nnamdi Asomugha did start Week 1 in the 49ers nickel personnel, but Williams played heavily as the nose tackle on base downs.

Harbaugh liked what he saw from the young anchor to San Francisco’s defensive line.

“I thought really the interior guys played very well,” Harbaugh said. “The four down lineman, we were in nickel most, almost the entire day. They did a good job stopping the run, tackling, getting pressure on the quarterback and they threw the ball very quickly. I thought all of our defensive linemen played well.”

More notes on the 49ers in today’s Morning Tailgate.

Bill Williamson of ESPN.com offered more thoughts from San Francisco’s win over Green Bay.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury Newsprovided game grades.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reviewed film from the win.

Michael Silver of NFL.comhighlighted the big outing from Anquan Boldin to start his 49ers career.

Andrew Pentis of 49ers.com looked at how the 49ers plan to address missed tackles.





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