The 49ers head into the Divisional Round matchup with the Saints after a first round bye that allowed the team to heal it’s wounds from the regular season. The team released their injury report with five players listed, all as questionable. The players on the injury report are CB Chris Culliver (knee), WR Ted Ginn (ankle), DT Ray McDonald (hamstring), TE Delanie Walker (jaw) and WR Kyle Williams (concussion). Culliver did not practice on Friday while Walker has not practiced all week. Ginn, McDonald and Williams have practiced this week but have been limited.
The two biggest impacts from the injury report for the game on Saturday is Culliver and Walker. Jim Harbaugh has ruled out Walker for the game since he has not practiced all week. Walker broke his jaw in week 16 against the Seahawks and did not play in the season finale. I had hoped Walker would be able to play as he gives QB Alex Smith another good option to throw to. Walker may be a tight end but he has the speed and moves of a wide receiver. He is also valuable in the run game as a great blocker. Walker will be missed against the Saints.
Culliver is expected to play even though he missed Friday’s practice with what is being described as a knee injury and illness. Culliver suffered his knee injury in the last game against the Rams. With the knee injury and illness, if Culliver cannot go it will impact the defense dramatically. Culliver is a rookie but is the No. 3 cornerback on the 49ers depth chart. The cornerback is at his best as a nickel back and I would think has big assignments in the game plan stopping the Saints wide receivers. The 49ers two starting CB’s are Pro Bowler Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown who have played well all season and should be able to handle the Saints receivers. But if Culliver is not there as the nickel back stopping the Saints passing game will be harder for the secondary. The 49ers backups are Tramaine Brock and Shawntae Spencer who would not have much of an impact in the game with limited time on the field this season.
Other than Walker missing the game, the 49ers are relatively healthy.
The Saints have ruled out WR Lance Moore from playing on Saturday. Moore has a hamstring injury and recorded 52 catches for 627 yards and eight touchdowns this season. If you think Moore missing the game will help the 49ers defense, don’t. Moore missed last week’s Wild Card game against the Lions and the Saints offense continued clicking. Here are the other players listed by the Saints:
OUT: TE John Gilmore (toe)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jonathan Casillas (knee)
PROBABLE: WR Robert Meachem (knee), S Roman Harper (ankle), LB Jonathan Vilma (knee)