49ers' Justin Smith reportedly has partial triceps tear

By Marc Sessler
Updated: Dec. 27, 2012 at 02:28 p.m.

The San Francisco can't afford another major injury, but the hits keep on coming.

The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday that defensive lineman
Justin Smith isn't battling an elbow injury, as the team has stated, but a partially torn left triceps, according to an anonymous source with knowledge of the injury.

Smith was injured in a Week 15 win over the New England Patriots and hasn't practiced since. The Bee reported Smith is likely to undergo offseason surgery, but the 49ers hope he can play through the pain during the team's voyage through the NFC playoffs.

Losing Smith would be devastating for San Francisco's defense. He is the engine behind a pass rush that has propelled teammate Aldon Smith to 19.5 sacks on the year. The combination of Smith and Smith has rocked offenses, but Justin's work has unfolded in the shadows, often freeing Aldon to heat-seek the passer.

We saw the 49ers struggle in Sunday night's loss to the Seahawks. With Justin off the field, Seattle ran Marshawn Lynch right at Aldon Smith, challenging him -- and winning. The Seahawks dominated at the point of attack all night.

Maybe Justin Smith plays through the pain. If he can't, this defense will not be the same come January.

UPDATE: Smith had a bone spur attached to his triceps tendon that became detached in his left elbow, Matt Maiocco of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reported.