Trent Baalke provides Justin Smith injury update

USA TODAY Sports

We take a look at the latest news on 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith's return from his triceps injury.

49ers general manager Trent Baalke met with the media and discussed a variety of topics. I'll hopefully get a full transcript, but in the meantime I'm doing some individual posts on the various topics Baalke addressed. Earlier I posted about his comments concerning the 2012 Draft class.

Baalke was asked about Justin Smith and his recovery from triceps surgery. The 49ers all-world defensive lineman suffered a triceps tear against the New England Patriots, and his absence and subsequent return at less than 100% were noticeable. The 49ers defense had some issues late in the year, and a decent amount of that can be traced to Smith's injury.

According to Baalke, Smith had successful surgery on his triceps muscle. Baalke said it went well and the team expects a short rehab for him, likely getting back in July, in time for the start of training camp. The 49ers do need to figure out an eventual answer for when Justin Smith retires, but for now, they just need to get him back on the field.

The 49ers don't need a full-time answer behind him quite yet, but they do need rotational help. Smith and Ray McDonald were among the NFL leaders in snaps. While they have proven quite effective, the team needs to figure out ways to stockpile more young talent to roll onto the field throughout games. Matt Maiocco had a solid article discussing some of the reasons the 49ers pass defense faltered late in the season. Justin Smith is a big reason, but for several smaller reasons.

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