The 49ers released an update on three injured starters for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. LB Patrick Willis and CB Carlos Rogers were injured in the game against the Rams while WR Braylon Edwards did not play. Willis injured his right hamstring and come out of the game in the fourth quarter. Rogers injured his knee but did not come out of the game. Edwards is still nursing a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the game against the Rams. Willis and Rogers missed Wednesday practice while Edwards returned to practice this week.
Jim Harbaugh and his coaches are in a tough position when it comes to healing injuries to important players. The 49ers have punched their ticket to the playoffs but where they will be seeded is still up in the air. The playoff seeding may come down to the final week of the season. Currently the 49ers are holding down the number 2 seed in the NFC but with the Packers two games ahead and the Saints only one game back of the 49ers, they cannot go into heal mode by resting players.
The injury that is the most concern is to Willis who is the leader on defense. Willis’ hamstring is reported as a Grade 2 strain which can take anywhere from three to six weeks to recover. Harbaugh certainly does not want to rush Willis back which most likely means he will not play against the Cardinals. With the way backup LB Larry Grant (6 tackles, 1 sack) played after Willis went down against the Rams, Harbaugh and Vic Fangio know they have an adequate replacement. I don’t want Willis to be rushed back because hamstring injuries can be easily re-injured but with a game next week against the Steelers and the 49ers trying to hold down the number 2 seed, Willis may need to come back before he is 100%. If Grant can duplicate his play from last week the 49ers might be in good hands until Willis is fully healed.
Rogers has a slight knee injury and it is not believed to be serious enough for him to miss Sunday’s game. Rogers played the whole game against the Rams and it was reported that he may have been given Wednesday off to rest. Let’s hope Rogers can play because missing both him and Willis will be bad for the defense even against a team like the Cardinals. Rogers has not missed a game this season and leads the 49ers with five interceptions.
Having Edwards back is a good thing only if he is 100% or close to it. Edwards brings veteran experience to the young 49ers receiving corps but if he is not healthy, he should not play. Edwards did say he is good to go for the rest of the season so he could be close. I doubt Harbaugh will allow Edwards to start if he cannot be effective in the game. With his 6-foot-3 frame Edwards is a great target inside the red zone for QB Alex Smith. Edwards is a big receiver and can jump over defenders which would help the lousy red zone offense this season.