SANTA CLARA --Defensive tackle Justin Smith did not practice Wednesday because of an elbow injury, casting a hint of doubt that his streak of 185 consecutive starts could end Sunday when the 49ers visit Seattle.
Smith observed practice after working out in the team's weight room adjacent to the practice field. He wore no apparent arm brace for the injury that he sustained in the third quarter of Sunday's 41-34 win at New England.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith's injury will take a couple more days to evaluate, adding that Smith will play "if humanly possible."
Smith's streak, the third-longest among active players, has overcome rib and finger injuries over the years. Asked in June if he dealt with any significant injury last season, Smith replied: "I had some stuff. Not significant. Significant means you're out. ... I've been lucky."
In the unlikely event Smith is out Sunday, linebacker Patrick Willis said the defense will turn to Ricky Jean Francois. "Injuries happen and that offers opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute," Willis said. "And Ricky Jean is that guy for us right now. I have complete confidence in him. We're counting on him to come in and make strides for us, and I think he will."
Jean Francois has three career starts, including one this season in place of nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Jean Francois had a fourth-quarter sack Sunday night.