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Monday, September 3, 2012
On the 49ers' injury feel minus Haralson

By Mike Sando

Injuries have cost NFC West teams two veteran backups with starting experience.

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Parys Haralson, projected to back up Aldon Smith after starting every game last season, went on injured reserve Monday, the team announced. Haralson joined Arizona Cardinals guard Jeremy Bridges among key NFC West backups ruled out for the full 2012 NFL season.

Haralson, 28, played 49.8 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps last season.

Smith collected a 49ers rookie record 14 sacks while replacing Haralson on passing downs. Smith, who has not played since suffering a bruised hip Aug. 10, replaced Haralson in the lineup this offseason. The 49ers expect to have Smith in the lineup against Green Bay in the season opener Sunday.

Depth at outside linebacker is a potential concern, however.

Seeking reinforcements

The 49ers addressed the issue by reaching a one-year deal with former Cardinals outside linebacker Clark Haggans.

Haggans, 35, had three sacks while playing 75 percent of the Cardinals' defensive snaps last season. He also played nearly 20 percent of the snaps on special teams, slightly more than Haralson played for the 49ers. The Cardinals released Haggans in favor of free-agent addition Quentin Groves.

Trend in the works?

The 49ers were unusually healthy on defense last season. Arizona was unusually healthy several years ago when winning the NFC West in consecutive seasons. This season has a different feel so far.

San Francisco has lost Smith and Brandon Jacobs for stretches. Now, Haralson is out for the season. Arizona has lost Bridges and fellow offensive tackle Levi Brown.

Veteran seasoning

Haggans' addition gives the 49ers' 11 players in their 30s, tied for seventh-most in the NFL.

San Francisco's 53-man roster now ranks as the fifth-oldest on average. The team sought a younger replacement for Haralson when submitting a waiver claim for former Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Jamaal Westeramn. Arizona also claimed Westerman, however, and the Cardinals had the higher waiver priority.

The chart lists the 49ers' 12 oldest players. Three are specialists. One, Justin Smith, is arguably the 49ers' best player. Haggans, Leonard Davis and Brandon Jacobs project as veteran backups. Davis, Justin Smith and Isaac Sopoaga have birthdays this month.

Suspension looming?

Haggans, meanwhile, could face an NFL suspension stemming from a 2011 DUI conviction.

Matt Barrows has the details.