For the first time in weeks, San Francisco is healthy again. They have an assortment of players with minor injuries, but no player missed a single day of practice this week, and will be ready to go for their road test against New England. The Patriots could be without one major weapon in the passing game, but will have enough weapons to execute their game plan.
Battle Up Front
The key to this game will be the 49ers ability to win the battle in the trenches, and establishing a running attack, so it’s not good news that Bruce Miller has a sore shoulder. The San Francisco secondary is also going to be under constant attack, so the fact that both corners are both a little gimpy with knee injuries is another concern, but both Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown participated in full team practice all week, so they appear to be as close to 100% as to be expected at this point in the season. Bruce Miller has been limited in practice, but as the Fullback there is really no surprise that he would be a little banged up, and due to a lesser role in the offense then most, will be just fine with the amount of practice he has participated in this week.
Gronk Is Doubtful
New England is coming off a game they won on the scoreboard, but clearly took its toll on the players. Of the 18 players they have listed on their injury report, only Jerod Mayo has participated in full practice. As with the 49ers with the players still practicing, all will be strapped up and ready to go Sunday Night, but there are some names that are worth mentioning. The Patriots have two members of their passing attack with injuries, but Wes Welker’s game is more about chemistry and timing and an ankle sprain will not limit his productivity. Tight end Rob Gronkoswki is listed as doubtful and if unable to play, will have the Patriots without their biggest mismatch.
Game Will Not Be Decided By Injuries
San Francisco can take advantage of the banged up Patriots by playing the physical style of football that has brought them so much success since Jim Harbaugh took over. New England is hurting on both sides of the ball, and if the 49ers can stay within their game plan and continue to pound the football, they could have the defending AFC Champs on the ropes come the 4th quarter. This is their normal style of football though, and would be applied if the Patriots injury report had one name on it. The bottom line is that both teams will have their play makers ready to go, and the final score will have nothing to do with a player who (at least going into the game), is injured.
San Francisco 49ers
*Wide Receiver: Mario Manningham—Shoulder
*Fullback: Bruce Miller—Shoulder
*Cornerback: Tarell Brown—Shoulder
*Kicker: David Akers—Pelvis
*Cornerback: Chris Culliver—Knee
*Linebacker: Aldon Smith—Shoulder
*Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman—Shoulder
*Linebacker: Tavares Gooden—Ribs
*Running Back: Frank Gore—Wrist
*Defensive Tackle: Will Tukuafu—Wrist
*Cornerback: Carlos Rogers—Knee
*Linebacker: Patrick Willis—Shoulder
New England Patriots
*Tight End: Rob Gronkowski—Forearm,hip
*Defensive Tackle: Kyle Love—Not injury related
*Cornerback: Kyle Arrington—Knee
*Defensive Tackle: Ron Brace—Elbow
*Safety: Patrick Chung—Shoulder, hamstring
*Guard: Dan Connolly—Back
*Cornerback: Alfonzo Dennard—Hamstring
*Linebacker: Dont’a Hightower—Hamstring
*Defensive End: Chandler Jones—Ankle
*Wide Receiver: Brandon Lloyd—Knee
*Guard: Logan Mankins—Ankle, calf
*Center: Nick McDonald—Shoulder
*Linebacker: Brandon Spikes—Knee, ankle
*Cornerback: Aqib Talib—Hip
*Tackle: Sebastian Vollmer—Back, knee
*Wide Receiver: Wes Welker—Ankle
*Linebacker: Tracy White—Elbow
*Linebacker: Jerod Mayo—Elbow
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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. His work can be found on Examiner.com.