Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers, Joe Staley's Return, Bruce Miller's Importance

The San Francisco 49ers are looking up on the injury front. Joe Staley practiced Thursday, relatively quickly after spraining his MCL this past Sunday. Though Mike Iupati is still out, and most likely will be Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, that Staley is practicing is a wonderful sign for the 49ers.

The offensive line has struggled this season in front of Colin Kaepernick. Though they looked good against a solid pass rush last week, even when down two starters, they looked awful against some of the better teams in the league — including Seattle in Week 2. Having as many players healthy is paramount to any 49er shot at victory.

With Joe Staley and 4 of 5 offensive lineman healthy, look for the 49ers to be able to handle the impressive pass rush of the Seahawks. Also, having Michael  Crabtree back should open up Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin for potentially big days. Though these players will get their targets, and Frank Gore and company are sure to get their carries, the difference maker on offense for San Francisco could very well be an unheralded player out of the backfield: Bruce Miller. The third leading receiver on the team, and an excellent run and pass blocker, he adds more to the offense than he is given credit for. With Staley back, Miller will not need to be held back to protect Kaepernick as much as he would be otherwise. Since Seattle will no doubt look to stuff the run, look for Miller to have a good number of sweeps or quick releases on defenders. Even if he does not gain a tremendous number of yards, a few nice catches for short to medium gains would be huge, considering the alternative would sacks.

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Tags: 49ers 49ers 2013 49ers Injury Bruce Miller Joe Staley San Francisco 49ers

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