Memo to all the opposing offensive linemen unlucky enough to be facing the 49ers’ formidable defensive front this coming season: DT Justin Smith, the line’s relentless anchor and undeniable tone setter, is looking nastier than ever this preseason.
Smith, who turns 33 on Sept. 30, has taken some practices off every now and then this preseason in advance of another grueling season. True to form, on the days Smith has returned to the practice field after being rested, daily observers tell us the 12th-year vet out of the University of Missouri has battled nonstop like a scrub desperately trying to survive the final roster countdown.
“He’s just incredible,” said one close observer of Smith, who has started 171 consecutive regular-season games and never has missed a game because of injury. “(Niners defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio says he thinks Justin can perhaps play another five years with his mobility and explosion. It’s amazing how athletic he still is at his size (6-4, 285 pounds) and how much leverage he still uses.
“He can still absolutely dominate a game.”