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Justin Smith injury: 49ers' DE shouldn't miss much time, if any

The 49ers are optimistic about Justin Smith's injury.

USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith left the team's win over the New England Patriots on Sunday night with an elbow injury, but it appears that he will not miss extended time, according to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee. Smith left the game in the third quarter, tried to come back in, but left again for good as the Patriots stormed back from a 28-point deficit.

The 49ers will evaluate Smith throughout the week before deciding if he can go against the Seahawks in Week 16. The tackle has not missed a game yet this season, as he has anchored the middle of one of the NFL's best defenses. Smith has recorded 66 tackles and three sacks on the year, and has often occupied blockers to help Aldon Smith record many of his 20 sacks.

Sunday's meeting with Seattle is important as the 49ers try to wrap up the division and move closer to a first-round bye. San Francisco can clinch the NFC West with a win and would be guaranteed a bye with two victories to close the year.