Justin Smith 49ers
January 15, 2012 by staff
“Our main goal from the first day of training camp was to get him back in the playoffs and get that goose egg off the board. And we did that,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said after Saturday’s 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints in a divisional-round thriller.
Smith played a major role by pressuring Drew Brees, highlighted by a body-slam sack at midfield in the third quarter. In an even more physical display on a fourth-quarter bull rush, Smith overpowered offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod and grasped Brees’ back at the same time on a third-down incompletion.
“You could tell it meant a lot to him, and he was going to bring it today,” 49ers rookie pass rusher Aldon Smith said.
Justin Smith’s only other playoff game was a wild-card loss with the 2005 Cincinnati Bengals. That defeat became a rallying cry for the 49ers defense this year. “In training camp this year, on the cover of our notebook was a picture of him and I had on there 0-1,” Fangio said.
Smith, a first-team AP All-Pro defensive tackle, saw his first action this season as an extra blocker on short-yardage runs by Frank Gore that led to first downs.
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