By Jerrell Richardson
After a season with relatively no major injuries, the San Francisco 49ers have taken a turn for the worse the past few weeks. As they prepare for their season finale, they can only hope that no other person suffers an injury, as the team can’t afford to lose any more players. Due to the team’s preparation for the season, they stocked up at several positions and have been able to weather the injury storm, due in a large part to the team’s depth. This will again be the case on Sunday, with wide receiver A.J. Jenkins scheduled to finally make his 49er debut.
When Mario Manningham was lost for the season with his torn ACL, the team suffered a big blow. This loss does open the door up for the team’s rookie wide receiver though. Due to his being buried at the bottom of a deep and capable receiving core, Jenkins has been inactive this entire season. He has gained nothing but praise from coach Harbaugh, as Jenkins continues to develop in practice, but fans have been dying to see the impact he can have on the team. With a young offensive core already in place, the addition of another receiver would make the 49er offense deadly. Although exciting to finally see the draft pick on the field, it’s the status of Vernon Davis and Justin Smith that will have a bigger impact on the team’s outlook for the rest of the season.
It appears as though Vernon Davis will be cleared to play as soon as this week, so he should be 100% in time for a playoff game. Justin Smith remains a mystery though. Smith has not practiced in two weeks, and the mood has gone from optimistic to unsure if he will be back in time for the playoffs. With Justin Smith the defense is not the same, so it will be imperative that they get him back. With his status as uncertain, it means that he is not out, and means that he will be on the field when needed.
As Arizona has nothing but pride on the line in this game, they have the luxury of sitting anyone banged up, and have no real injury concerns. They will be thin at the receiver position, but it’s not like they were going to pass to anyone not named Larry Fitzgerald anyways. Anthony Sherman and Nate Potter are far from impact players, and the Cardinals will have the services of their main weapons on Sunday.
Despite the injury report clearly in favor of the visiting team, San Francisco should be fine. The two injury concerns for the team will be to escape the game with no more significant injuries, and to get back Vernon Davis and Justin Smith before the playoffs. This week will be the debut of A.J. Jenkins and it will be interesting to see the rookie finally step on the field. If both he and LaMichael James find themselves on the field at the same time, coach Harbaugh could be giving fans a glimpse into the future.
San Francisco 49ers
- Wide Receiver: Mario Manningham—Knee
- Defensive Tackle: Justin Smith—Elbow
- Tight End: Vernon Davis—Concussion
- Defensive Tackle: Will Tukuafu—Neck
- Linebacker: Clark Haggans—Shoulder
- Linebacker: Tavares Gooden–Illness, Rib
- Linebacker: Ahmad Brooks—Shoulder
- Cornerback: Tarell Brown–Shoulder, Knee
- Fullback: Bruce Miller—Shoulder
- Cornerback: Carlos Rogers–Knee, Toe
- Linebacker: Aldon Smith—Shoulder
- Linebacker: NaVorro Bowman–Wrist, Shoulder
- Running Back: Frank Gore—Knee
- Guard: Mike Iupati—Shoulder
- Safety: Trenton Robinson—Finger
- Safety: Donte Witner—Knee
- Center-Jonathan Goodwin—Illness
- Punter-Andy Lee—Illness
- Wide Receiver: Early Doucet—Concussion
- Wide Receiver: Laron Byrd—Knee
- Guard: Mike Gibson—Calf
- Tackle: Nate Potter—Ankle
- Running Back: Anthony Sherman—Knee
- Defensive End: Ronald Talley—Ankle
- Safety: Adrian Wilson—Illness
- Safety: Rashad Johnson—Hamstring
- Safety: James Sanders—Calf
- Defensive Tackle: Dan Williams—Hamstring
- Cornerback: Gregory Toler—Hamstring
- Safety: Kerry Rhodes—Illness
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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.