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Ricky Jean Francois Ready if Needed

Posted by Alex Espinoza on December 21, 2012 – 4:38 PM

Ricky Jean Francois was a wanted man inside the 49ers locker room on Friday.

After Justin Smith missed his third straight practice with an elbow injury, his streak of 185 straight starts, the third-longest active streak in the NFL, appears to be in jeopardy. Once Smith went out in the second half at New England last week, Jean Francois filled in for Smith and even contributed a crucial sack of Tom Brady in the late stages of the game.

So as Jean Francois fielded questions from reporters at his locker, Randy Moss and Mike Iupati couldn’t help but jump into the media scrum and ask some questions of their own.

“Do you think you’re pretty strong?” Moss asked Jean Francois.

“I squat about 700 (pounds), is that good enough?” Jean Francois responded.

Moss laughed and let Jean Francois go after that, but the point was made. Ricky is ready.

While Smith didn’t participate in Friday’s practice session, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said the veteran did some rehabbing, strengthening and conditioning throughout the day.

“He’ll be questionable for the game,” Harbaugh said.

If Smith is unable to go, they’ll need all of Jean Francois’ strength on the defensive line as they face Marshawn Lynch, who has reeled off back-to-back, 100-yard efforts against the 49ers dating back to last year. Jean Francois said he’s preparing as if he expects to start on Sunday.

The third-year defensive lineman has been a key backup to the starters, occasionally spelling Smith, Ray McDonald and Isaac Sopoaga throughout the season.

“I’m happy to play any position,” Jean Francois said. “If (defensive coordinator) Vic (Fangio) sees me at a different position and sees we have an advantage somewhere with me, I’m happy to play nose tackle and end to show I have versatility.”

But when Jean Francois comes in for Smith, who is renowned for rarely coming off the field, it’s usually for a play or two while Smith catches his breath. So as he stayed in the defensive huddle against the Patriots, Jean Francois admitted he was expecting Smith to come substitute him out of the game.

“I was like that for a few minutes,” Jean Francois said. “I was, like, 1, 2, 3. Hold on, I’ve been in three plays, that’s too long.”

Once Jean Francois returned to the sidelines and found out Smith was in the 49ers locker room for evaluation, he changed his mindset and told himself he would probably have to finish out the game. Likewise, Jean Francois changed up his study habits this week with the possibility he could get his second start of the year and fourth of his career.

“This week’s preparation was a little bit different,” Jean Francois said. “More film and more details on their offense. Usually I’m on the sideline, so I can gather their offense and see what they like running back and forth. Now I’m going to be actually on the field, so I have to get that from looking at film before anything.”

Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley has practiced against both Smith and Jean Francois over the past four seasons. While no one can replicate Smith’s value to the team in the trenches, Staley said Jean Francois should be able to step in and contribute to the 49ers, who are tied with Seattle as the top-ranked scoring defense in NFL (15.6 points per game).

“He’s a very good player. He could start for a lot of football teams in the NFL,” Staley said of Jean Francois. “Fits the scheme really well, knows exactly what we’re doing. Obviously, Justin is Justin Smith and one of the best players in the NFL, but Ricky does a terrific job of going in there with a next-man-in kind of mentality. … If he’s in there, we expect him to do great things for us.”

Harbaugh on Friday also revealed that rookie linebacker Cam Johnson, the team’s seventh-round pick out of Virginia, could be a candidate to be elevated from the practice squad to the active roster as the 53rd man.

Game Pass: San Francisco 49ers

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Posted in Announcements | 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Ricky Jean Francois Ready if Needed”

  1. By tom in nj on Dec 21, 2012 | Reply

    As much as i think team needs Justin i think if he’s not 100 percent i think he should take week off! Espec if he only needs one week to heal 100 percen!t Why miss more then one or more games to play this week?WE need him more in playoffs! I think some playing time will be good for Ricky and Ray! I’d even like some substitution during the games to keep our starters fresher towards end of game! GO NINERS! Cant wait to see James input!He’s due to return one! and my man WHITNER!What can i say bout him other then the mans got HIT is his name! Bring it!BTW that personal foul against goldson was BS! did like to see how hernandez got T-Rex arms the next drive though! Funny Stuff! GO NINERS!

  2. By Bobby Bolton on Dec 21, 2012 | Reply

    He signed my hat!

  3. By jeffesky on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    jim is a talker

  4. By Wayne Cunningham on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    Yeap I agree Ricky and Ray are both very very good guys to have on the field and I sure like to see Justin play and keep his streak of 185 game going but if it going to cause more problems than it solves then it will be up to Coach Harbaugh to make the call before Sunday battle

  5. By 11yearswithalex on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    i like our depth lot of playmakers and guys who want to contribute at a high level and win …….nice to see it all come together …….gooo niners

  6. By Randy K. on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    Why would you discount the ability of RJF? He recorded a key sack in the final minutes of the game against the Patriots. Even thought they are running thin at defensive tackle there is still Issac Sopoaga and Will Tukuafu maybe it’s time to activate someone off the practice squad.Ffresh legs and a fresh body might be the ticket in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. These guys are all paid they belong.

  7. By Buzz Clifford on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    Dashon Goldson needs to be brutal against the Seattle Seahawks. Do not let the helmet to helmet fine deter him from vicious clean hits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    On a side note side bar Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton could have bipolar dis-order which can cause hypersexuality, increased energy and poor judgement. The drug of choice is depakote or divalproex.

    Go niners!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. By no bletc on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    Justin is probably worried, if he does not start, he may be on the bench for the rest f the season, based upon what happened to Alex

  9. By aussieblades on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    This is a professional sport. Players earn their spot on the team, and then their starting position by ability, as judged by the coaches. Coaches owe it to the owners, fans, and players to play the best person, not the same person. No one should have a starting position one play longer than they earn it. Its called competition. Anything else is favortism. Alex needs to earn his spot. Using the same concept you do, bletc, no one should be displeased, question, or criticize akers for missing field goals. He’s injured, but it’s his position, right. That is stupid. Its also stupid to question Harbaugh. Look at his record, at Standford, and after one season, with a half the time to coach and prepare the team. Now this year. We should all be so smart. If he wants the waterboy to be the qb, trust it.

  10. By Buzz Clifford on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    We want to knock Peyton Manning out of the picture. We he is forced out of the pocket 99% of the time he runs to his right.

  11. By ben hernandez on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    What does Peyton Manning have to do with the niners??

  12. By 11yearswithalex on Dec 22, 2012 | Reply

    yeah bring the A game and slap those chickens of seattle …….tuff physical game is what beat the pats …need to do the same to the seaturds…….we make the game go as we want not react to what they are doing …….show the seaschickens the door and take the next step …..GOOOO NINERS

  13. By mullerfaithful49ers on Dec 23, 2012 | Reply

    who ever did the deaththreat to david ackers was oncalled for i dont like that fact he missed the field goal either but its not called for his life we are better fans than that niner nation c mon man lets support him in everything he does 49ers fan.

  14. By KDB on Dec 24, 2012 | Reply

    It is now VERY CLEAR that Colin is a good QB but ALEX is a better fit for this team and for this year. Next yr different story possibly but we had an identity as a strong physical team that dominated other defenses with Alex in there. Our main identity has been lost and I really see that with Kap as our QB, that is not arguable, period.

    Merry Christmas.

  15. By ogre on Dec 24, 2012 | Reply

    the team is not right and won’t be. team has lost heart as harbaugh has lost credibility. you broke the rule of integrity/truth and now you get to pay for it. sad thing is that the team will pay. when you lose your honor (as you & staff have) the team no longer “buys into” what you are selling. you really should take your “college road show” somewhere else old pete just showed you how to be a man. guess you weren’t paying attention.

  16. By marvino on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    we need to let brown cover the slot wr. carlos is too slow he cant cover cruz, or any quick wr keep him on the slower wr

  17. By marvino on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    u cant talk trash to a team and not back it up coach. its a war when it comes to div teams. mr oc. when kap has a lane let him take off. we need to let the dogs hunt from here on. get phys. no trash talk. smile and line up. let ur game talk like mj 23.

  18. By BA Bolden on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    I will have to agree that we have lost identity Physical teams need physical play. Colin has done a great job and is the wave of the future.Now the hawks game lost was because of the zone read offense. It is the change that is coming to the NFL and that is final. Our defense needed Justin very bad to offset the read. I think we will do very well in the playoffs whether on the road or at home. But the experimenting needs to stop!!!!!!!!!!

  19. By Je Fowler on Dec 25, 2012 | Reply

    This defense is not the same without Justin though. I do believe he needs to take a week so that he will be 100% for the playoffs

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