49ers optimistic even without Smith

Updated: December 27, 2012, 6:53 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Patrick Willis believes the San Francisco 49ers can still be a great defense even without All-Pro tackle Justin Smith.

The 49ers might have to spend the rest of this season finding out whether or not Willis, their All-Pro linebacker and defensive leader, is correct.

Smith is unlikely to play Sunday in the regular-season finale against Arizona because of a partially torn left triceps. The injury could force Smith to miss some or all of the postseason.

The ...

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