Sunday, January 22, 2012
Walker, Ginn and 49ers' injury tradeoffs
By Mike Sando
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco 49ers' injury situation featured tradeoffs Sunday.
Receiver Ted Ginn Jr., a dynamic threat in the return game when healthy, will miss the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury. The injury limited him last week.
Tight end Delanie Walker is back, however, and he'll play for the first time since breaking his jaw during a freak collision with Leroy Hill's knee at the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16. Walker led the 49ers with six receptions for 69 yards when the 49ers defeated the New York Giants in Week 10. His presence should help San Francisco in the rematch.
Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Joe Hastings and Brett Swain are the receivers active for San Francisco.
Veteran fullback Moran Norris is inactive, leaving Bruce Miller as the only fullback, with Walker and fellow tight ends Vernon Davis and Justin Peelle giving the 49ers options when they go to heavier personnel groupings. Tackle Alex Boone and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga also help out as blockers at times. Defensive end Justin Smith recently came onto the field as a blocker as well.
I suspect we're going to see quite a bit of Frank Gore and fellow running back Kendall Hunter in this game. We'll see greater versatility within the two-tight end packages now that the speedy, athletic Walker is available. Walker also helps on special teams.
But with Ginn out, the 49ers will be trusting the much less experienced Williams and Hunter in the return game amid wet, potentially windy conditions.