By Jerrell Richardson
It’s no surprise that the names on the San Francisco injury report are either defensive players or lineman. At this point in the season, everyone is a little banged up, and for a team that plays a physical brand of football, to have players limited this week in practice is to be expected. The two players who were held out of all team activities were Ray McDonald and Justin Smith, and Smith was only limited on Wednesday. Both are defensive tackles, which could be a problem depth wise, but neither is expected to miss the game. That leaves Patrick Willis and Nnamdi Asomugha as the only players who could miss Sunday’s game.
While the team can get away with sitting Willis for another week, they might not have the luxury with Asomugha. The 49ers are facing a Cardinal team that will go to the air to try and make some plays. With Carlos Rogers also sporting a gimpy knee, San Francisco will need as many available cover personal as possible. However, the team also knows that Arizona has only one dangerous receiving target, and should be able to match up one on one with any receiver not named Larry Fitzgerald.
If needed, the 49ers could have everyone suited up. However, they also are in a position to rest some ailing players before their injuries become serious. The defense has played well the past two weeks shorthanded, so there is no reason to bring back Willis unless he is close to 100 percent, and in no danger of aggravating his injury. The most important thing for the 49ers at this point is to make it to the bye week without any more injuries. If this means sitting Willis another week, with NaVorro Bowman and the solid play of back up Michael Wilhoite, combined with a weak Cardinals running game, so be it.
San Francisco 49ers
Did Not Participate In Practice
- Ray McDonald (Defensive Tackle): Biceps
- Limited In Practice
- Nnamdi Asomugha (Cornerback): Knee
- Alex Boone (Guard): Shoulder
- Anthony Davis (Tackle): Shoulder
- Carlos Rogers (Cornerback): Knee
- Patrick Willis (Linebacker): Groin
- Justin Smith (Defensive Tackle): Shoulder
Cardinals Best Player Is Hobbled
All of the Cardinal injuries are on the defensive side of the ball except one big name. Out of the nine players who were limited in practice, four are starters, and could affect this game. Luckily for Arizona, all signs point to their entire team available, but it’s no guarantee. To make matters worse, the defense has a starter at each level, (defensive end, linebacker and safety), that would really put this team at a disadvantage, and even if able to play are clearly not 100 percent health wise.
The most glaring Cardinal listed as injured is Larry Fitzgerald. The star receiver has a sore hamstring and has been limited in practice. This is huge as he is the only real offensive threat the team has, and if unable to play it will be a long day for the Arizona offense. Like his fellow teammates listed as injured, he does plan to play, but speed is a part of his game, and with an injured hamstring his effectiveness might be in question. However, Fitzgerald is also a tall, sure handed and physical receiver that even if slowed up due to a hamstring is a match up night mare for the 49er secondary.
Limited In Practice
- John Abraham (Linebacker): Shoulder
- Jasper Brinkley (Linebacker): Groin
- Darnell Dockett (Defensive Tackle): Groin
- Larry Fitzgerald (Wide Receiver): Hamstring
- Rashad Johnson (Safety): Finger
- Kevin Minter (Linebacker): Hamstring
- Ronald Talley (Defensive End): Wrist
- Darly Washington (Linebacker): Knee
- Kenny Demens (Linebacker): Hamstring
No Real Injuries On Either Side
This week’s injury report should be called the precautionary report. No player listed is really injured, and if this game meant enough, both sides would have all their players available. Any player sitting out this game is doing so because they don’t want to risk aggravating anything. The only player who will have a dramatic impact if he doesn’t play is Larry Fitzgerald. Carson Palmer will still have Michael Floyd to throw to, but the 49ers will either double Floyd, or man up and bring pressure on quarterback Caron Palmer. Palmer already has nine interceptions this season, and has no chance moving the ball without his number one target.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.