Originally written on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/20/12

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 5: Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the field during the game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2008 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
The 49ers are preparing for Sunday's game against Seattle with the assumption that defensive end Justin Smith won't be available. Smith left last week's 41-34 victory over New England in the third quarter because of an undisclosed elbow injury and did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Smith's departure from the game nearly coincided exactly with New England's 28-point run that erased a 31-3 San Francisco lead. "We got guys that can step up," safety Dashon Goldson said. "Justin is one of our captains, one of our leaders, one of our bell cows, but we definitely have some guys that will definitely have to step up and carry that load for us." The likely candidate to step into Smith's role is Ricky Jean Francois, who had two tackles and a sack last Sunday. "He's got good strength. He's a good athlete for a big guy," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Francois. "He can play both the banging game and got a little bit of athleticism too, so he's a well-rounded player. He'...
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