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Ravens vs 49ers: WR Steve Smith Sr. expected to play

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is apparently expected to play today against the San Francisco 49ers. The 36-year old wideout fractured four bones in his back against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night in week 4 of the NFL season.

Head coach John Harbaugh was asked about the pain tolerance of Steve Smith after it was determined that he had the broken bones in his back and wasn't immediately ruled out of following games.

He's probably got one of the all-time high pain tolerances that you're ever going to see. He's in the Hall of Fame of pain tolerance. That's what our doctors told me. That's quite a compliment.

And it really is. At a time when players are ruled out for things like stomach bugs and relatively minor injuries, to see a wide receiver that relies so much on the back to not only play, but to not have pain when breathing, moving, stretching, etc. not only not be ruled out for a couple of weeks while he heals, but to actually be expected to play just two weeks removed from the injury itself, is insane. Senior has always been a player that defines "grit" but damn if you can't paste this incident in the dictionary right next to his photo.

The Ravens will need all the help they can get tonight as the season is all but over. A loss tonight would put the Ravens at 1-5 and would force them to win out for the remainder of the season to have a shot at a Wild Card slot in the playoffs. While wide receiver Kamar Aiken has performed well, and is working on his consistency, the Ravens don't have a legit threat in the passing game without Smith and tight end Crockett Gillmore playing.

Even though Smith is expected to play, I would not expect to see him frequently in the game. The Ravens will likely want to test out how well his can actually get out there and run as well as take hits, something I doubt he's done since his injury. Offensive Marc Trestman could also use Smith as a bit of a decoy to get more favorable matchups to his other weapons. It would shock me more to see Smith see half as many snaps as Kamar Aiken does in tonight's game, but his suiting up at all is a serious boon to the Ravens offense.

Hopefully he comes out of this game just as healthy as he went into it.