Is Aldon Smith dependent on Justin Smith to be a productive pass rusher? Harbaugh: “It’s a team defense,” and Aldon needs rest

Jim Harbaugh spoke on KNBR Wednesday morning. Here’s what he said about the possibility of Justin Smith returning for the playoffs, and how his absence has affected Aldon Smith. Smith has not had a sack since Justin Smith’s elbow injury in New England.

Q: Should we expect that Justin Smith will play on Saturday, January 12th?

HARBAUGH: I think that depends on how Justin feels, where his strength is and how the doctors feel about it. From talking to Justin, it’s improved every single week. Hopeful is how we would classify that, that he will play in the game.

Q: How big is the bye specifically for Justin Smith?

HARBAUGH: Hopeful for that, that he continues to progress like he has, and having the strength return.

Q: To be a productive pass rusher, is Aldon Smith dependent on Justin Smith’s return?

HARBAUGH: We’ve always said it’s a team defense kind of thing. I think Aldon will benefit from some of the rest that he has an opportunity to take. I think, watching the tape, he’s somebody who needs it. But yeah, your point that it’s a team dynamic is true.

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