Yesterday saw the end of the consecutive games streak of He Who Shall Not Be Named (or HWSNBN for short). Whatever reason for the decision to end that streak, it's over and now we get to hopefully hear about his retirement once again and then maybe never hear from him again. I doubt we'll be that lucky, but you never know. After the Ravens wild win over Houston last night I quickly changed the channel away from ESPN when I realized it was going to be HWSNBN-Center instead of a more normal Sportscenter. I didn't bother switching to the NFL Network either because I have to imagine they would have had similar content.
However, in light of the end of this still impressive streak by looking at the consecutive games played streak of our own Justin Smith. In playing every game since his rookie season, Smith currently has a 152-game streak that is good for sixth among active NFL players and third among defensive players. While HWSNBN has made everything about him at this point in his career, Justin Smith comes across as the ultimate team player and an ideal teammate. I could certainly be wrong since I'm not in the 49ers lockerroom or interacting with Smith on any sort of basis, but I just get a good vibe from him. I've posted some video after the jump from a few weeks ago, and he just comes across as a fairly normal, level-headed guy.
It's fitting that he does come across that way because he remains a truly underrated player in the NFL. Although he's never going to lead the league in tackles or sacks, Justin Smith continually makes big plays and seems to have a hand in a big play at least once a game. The defensive end position in the 3-4 defense often ends up playing in the shadows without the glamor that a 4-3 defensive end can get. And yet, Justin Smith toils away and is one of the leaders on this defense. He's currently fifth on the team in tackles and first in sacks. It's not the best thing in the world that a defensive end leads the 49ers 3-4 in sacks, but it still shows what kind of beast he is.
As this season moves along and we continue into the coming seasons, it's safe to say Justin Smith will remain a key cog in this defense but still an under the radar cog outside of the 49ers fanbase. Considering the drama HWSNBN brings on an annual and really weekly basis at this point, I can live with an under the radar star.