SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh channeled his inner Tennessee Ernie Ford on Wednesday in saying he expects defensive lineman Justin Smith to play against the Green Bay Packers.
"God willing and the creek don't rise, he's going to play," Harbaugh said of Smith, who missed the final two regular-season games with a partially torn triceps tendon.
Harbaugh said he was unaware of who Ford was, the longtime country music star who died in 1991.
"I thought that was Jack Harbaugh," Jim Harbaugh deadpanned, when asked if he got the line from Ford. Jack, of course, is Jim's father.
Harbaugh added that he was confident from the outset that Smith would be ready to go after Smith suffered the injury against the New England Patriots on Dec. 16, even knowing the severity of the injury, which will require surgery in the offseason.
"I felt with the brace he would be able to play with what he had ...," Harbaugh said. "There's been significant improvement since that time."
Smith has participated in all four practices the past two weeks in the 49ers preparation for their first playoff game Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park.
Smith is participating at full capacity, opting against wearing a black, no-contact jersey. He is wearing a brace on his left arm, similar to the one worn by Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis in the Ravens game against the Colts last weekend.
Lewis, too, suffered a triceps injury and missed significant time during the regular season. Lewis recorded 13 tackles against the Colts.