NFL Nation: Joe Hastings

The season-altering and potentially season-ending injury Michael Crabtree suffered Tuesday leaves the San Francisco 49ers with question marks at wide receiver.

Anquan Boldin becomes the most productive healthy receiver available to the team. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are coming off injury-shortened seasons.

Marlon Moore, signed from the Miami Dolphins, is the only other wideout on the roster with a reception to his credit last season.

Boldin (65 receptions), Manningham (42), Williams (14) and Moore (six) combined for 127 receptions last season. The chart compares their regular-season totals to the ones Crabtree produced.

Having Manningham and Williams healthy would change the dynamic. Second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins' development also becomes more important. He wasn't needed much last season and failed to catch a pass in three appearances. Coach Jim Harbaugh has expressed high hopes for Ricardo Lockette, who must prove his prodigious physical gifts can translate to consistent in-game performance.

Rookie fourth-round choice Quinton Patton is another option. Chad Hall and Joe Hastings are the other receivers on the 49ers' roster.

Crabtree has already undergone surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in practice Tuesday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The 49ers have a couple roster-related options for Crabtree.

They could place him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list when training camp opens, then leave him there while Crabtree rehabilitates. Crabtree would have to miss at least the first six games, which seems like a given anyway. From there, Crabtree could return to game action as late as Week 15 under recently tweaked PUP rules.

Teams have until following their sixth through 11th games to activate players to their 53-man rosters from their PUP lists, or else the players are lost for the season. Once activated, the player can practice for as many as three weeks before returning to game action. That route would seem to have appeal for the 49ers if they thought Crabtree could recover in time for a playoff push.

The 49ers could also place Crabtree on injured reserve, ending his season. Teams can designate IR players for returning later in the season if those players suffered major injuries after the start of training camp. In those cases, the players become eligible to practice after six weeks and play after eight.

Eight in the Box: WR status check

March, 29, 2013
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NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How does each team look at wide receiver and what still needs to be done?

Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd comprise a solid top three. LaRon Byrd and Kerry Taylor are the only other receivers on the roster. First-year coach Bruce Arians has said receiver is one position he doesn't worry about. Floyd's continued development after an encouraging finish to the 2012 season will be important. The former coaching staff envisioned moving Roberts to the slot, with Fitzgerald and Floyd on the perimeter. That could still happen. Arians also plans to move Fitzgerald around the formation the way he moved Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis last season. Drafting a receiver for depth would make sense, but there's no need to chase one early. The Cardinals released veteran Early Doucet, who struggled with drops last season.

St. Louis Rams: Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis are the top three. Nick Johnson and Raymond Radway are the only other receivers on the roster. The Rams are eager to develop young players. Givens had five receptions of at least 50 yards during his 2012 rookie season, matching the combined total for wide receivers from every other team in the division. Pettis made a difference around the end zone. The Rams still must add to the position after letting Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson leave in free agency. Having two first-round picks should give the Rams an opportunity to consider a highly rated prospect at the position. It's clear the team is committed to youth regardless. We should remember, too, that recently added tight end Jared Cook lines up at receiver quite a bit. He made all but six of his 42 receptions from the slot last season.

San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin are clearly the top two receivers. Mario Manningham is coming off ACL surgery, took a pay reduction recently and might not figure prominently this season. The 49ers, like the Rams, could use more contributions from a receiver drafted early in 2012. A.J. Jenkins, chosen 30th overall and three spots before the Rams selected Quick, did not catch a pass during his rookie season. What's ahead for him? The 49ers aren't saying much. No one is quite sure. Coach Jim Harbaugh recently sounded more excited about former practice-squad wideout Ricardo Lockette, whose size-speed combination sets him apart from most prospects. Lockette flashed ability with Seattle previously, but his career never took off with the Seahawks. Kyle Williams, Chad Hall, Joe Hastings and Marlon Moore are the other receivers on the roster.

Seattle Seahawks: The addition of Percy Harvin changed the outlook for the position quite a bit. He and Sidney Rice appear to be the top two receivers, but Golden Tate is gaining momentum heading into his contract year. Rice and Tate each caught seven touchdown passes last season. Both averaged 15-plus yards per reception. Doug Baldwin needs improved health to factor as a slot receiver. Even then, opportunities could be scarce. The team thinks Phil Bates and former Cardinals receiver Stephen Williams have the potential to become contributors. Bryan Walters, Charly Martin and Jermaine Kearse are the other receivers on the roster. Drafting for the position would help for long-term planning given Tate's contract situation. Also, injuries have limited Harvin, Rice and Baldwin at times in recent seasons. Rice did stay healthy last season, however.
One year ago, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree voiced frustration over the opportunities available to him during an overtime defeat to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.

Crabtree had finished that game with a single reception for 3 yards. No other 49ers wide receiver caught a pass that day.



"Sometimes you just gotta move the ball, man," Crabtree said from the losing locker room at Candlestick Park. "You gotta make plays. You gotta give people a chance to make plays."

Crabtree seemed to be blaming the play calling and/or quarterback Alex Smith. Mostly, he was frustrated after the most difficult defeat San Francisco had suffered in many years.

At the time, I blamed Crabtree's struggles more on the coverage Giants cornerback Corey Webster applied than on anything systemic. The way Crabtree has flourished recently with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback supports other theories.

Crabtree has 15 receptions for 176 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games this season. He had five receptions for 28 yards and one score in two playoff games last season.

The chart compares San Francisco's overall production when targeting wide receivers in these playoffs versus the playoffs last season.

Having a more legitimate No. 2 receiver in Randy Moss has probably helped Crabtree. Injuries left the 49ers with Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Brett Swain and Joe Hastings as their only receivers in the NFC title game a year ago.

Having Kaepernick in the lineup seems to be working in Crabtree's favor. Crabtree has averaged an additional 29 yards receiving per game in Kaepernick's nine starts.

The 49ers' Super Bowl opponent, Baltimore, has been tough on opposing wideouts during the playoffs. Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady completed 53.2 percent of their passes with three touchdowns, four interceptions and a 64.3 NFL passer rating when targeting wide receivers against the Ravens this postseason.

Camp Confidential: 49ers

August, 16, 2012
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- One school of thought says the San Francisco 49ers got the most they'll ever get from quarterback Alex Smith last season.

What if last season was only the beginning?

That question ran through my mind while watching Smith fire passes on time and on target during a recent three-day stay at 49ers training camp. The answer became clearer every time Smith connected with newcomers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, which was frequently. He appeared more accurate, more confident and more in command than I can ever recall seeing Smith during a training camp -- or any other time, for that matter.

"He's letting the ball go, he's making the right decisions and he's not afraid," tight end Vernon Davis said. "He's playing ball, he's having fun."

Of course, it figures a quarterback would look better throwing to proven targets than when operating without them. Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Brett Swain and Joe Hastings were the only wideouts available to Smith in the NFC Championship Game last season. Williams, now fighting for a roster spot, ranked second among the 49ers' wide receivers with 20 catches during the regular season.

[+] EnlargeAlex Smith
Ed Szczepanski/US PresswireThe 49ers brought in more weapons for Alex Smith to work with on offense.
Life for Smith is better now.

"If you watch our team last year, we were kind of one-dimensional as far as offense," left tackle Joe Staley said. "The passing game went through Vernon and Crabtree. The running game was Frank [Gore] and Kendall [Hunter]. We've added a lot of talent. The more weapons you have, the more versatile you can be. Our coaches are very creative."

Smith proved last season he could be a trusted extension of the 49ers' coaching staff. He threw five interceptions in 445 pass attempts, playing to the team's strengths on defense and special teams.

Smith has what offensive coordinator Greg Roman calls a "unique" ability to grasp a game's dynamics in real time for the purposes of managing risks. On the surface, that sounds like a creative way to avoid slapping the dreaded "game manager" label on a quarterback with limited skills. The 49ers don't see it that way at all. They think Smith has demonstrated all the intangibles great quarterbacks should possess: mental and physical toughness; an off-the-charts football IQ; a level head no matter the circumstances; a passion for preparation; and the ability to perform in the clutch. They see him leading an offense that wasn't as bad as advertised, one that should only get better.

"Without an offseason here, we finished 10th in the NFL in scoring [actually 11th] and fourth in time of possession," Roman said. "That is in spite of being poor on third down, which is pretty remarkable.

"We're going to be opportunistic, strike when we feel it's time to strike," he said. "The other part of it is, when we make decisions on offense, it's big picture. The offense, defense and special teams are all intertwined. But we have an offseason under our belt now and are working through our second camp together. We certainly expect a lot of ourselves this year."

THREE HOT ISSUES

1. Crowded offensive backfield. Frank Gore is going to get his carries. Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James will be competing for what's left over. Their roles haven't solidified, but Hunter has enjoyed a tremendous camp. He caught my attention this week by hauling in a deep pass up the sideline, the type of play running backs rarely make. Hunter is going to play. James, as a rookie, figures to need time.

Jacobs, signed from the New York Giants, has been getting work in short-yardage situations, an area in which Anthony Dixon struggled in the postseason.

After collecting two Super Bowl rings in five seasons with Kevin Gilbride as his coordinator, Jacobs has been blown away by Roman's ability to showcase each player's individual strengths. That is a recurring theme among 49ers players.

"That is what this staff does the best," Jacobs said. "'G-Ro' is a genius, man. I've seen it, mainly these last couple days, we started doing some different things on offense, things out of different formations and basically putting the defense in sets he wants them to be in, versus what they want to be in."

Based on what he's seen, Jacobs said he thinks Gore would have six or seven Pro Bowl appearances by now, instead of three, had this 49ers staff been in place the whole time.

[+] EnlargeRandy Moss
Ed Szczepanski/US PresswireAfter sitting out for a season, Randy Moss joined a revamped 49ers receiving corps.
2. Role for Randy Moss. The passing game went through Crabtree and Davis last season. Both are in the primes of their careers. Neither figures to see his role diminish appreciably. With Manningham joining the mix and rookie first-round choice A.J. Jenkins lurking, a rotational role for Moss appears likely.

The sentiments Jacobs expressed regarding Roman and the 49ers' coaching staff could be important to keeping Moss from growing frustrated. Moss never has been one to suffer fools, even perceived ones, especially if the ball stopped coming his way. He did buy into "the New England way" when the Patriots' offensive staff was at its best and the team was winning. Moss also was catching balls left and right from an all-time great quarterback back then, circumstances the 49ers will not replicate.

The question then becomes whether Moss, 35 years old and coming off an idle season, will put team goals ahead of personal ones no matter what.

Davis, probably the most emotionally authentic player on the team, said he "loves" Moss for having "a great heart" and being a selfless teammate.

"Not only has he extended some knowledge to me, he has shown me that being great requires you to work even when you've had tons of success, with people saying you're a potential Hall of Famer, first ballot," Davis said of Moss.

3. Potential sophomore slump. Aldon Smith has incurred a DUI arrest, suffered stab wounds at a party and been carted off the Candlestick Park field with a preseason hip injury since setting a franchise rookie record with 14 sacks last season. That sounds like a sure-fire recipe for a sophomore slump.

Smith has been getting around slowly with the help of a forearm crutch. Hip injuries can be terribly painful. Athletes as lean as Smith have so little padding in that area. On the positive side, Smith has bounced back quickly from injuries in the past. He missed three games after suffering a cracked fibula during the 2010-11 season at Missouri.

The 49ers are asking Smith to transition from situational pass-rusher to full-time outside linebacker. Missed practice reps could slow that transition in the short term.

REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

The 49ers brought back all the important players from a team that finished 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game last season. They added weapons at receiver and running back after falling short offensively.

Both sides of the ball figure to benefit from a full offseason after scrambling to learn new schemes on the fly following the lockout.

The progress Davis showed late last season comes to mind as an extreme example. Adapting to yet another offense was tough in the beginning, but once he grasped the concepts more fully, there was no stopping him (10 receptions, 292 yards and four touchdowns over two playoff games).

Finishing 13-3 again would break from precedent, but all signs point to the 49ers as NFC West favorites.

Much will hinge on whether the offense improves, and to what degree.

The line appears in position to take a step forward. Four of the five starters played at least 92 percent of the offensive snaps last season. The new starter, right guard Alex Boone, is entering his third season with the team. The best offensive lines play together for years. This one increasingly has continuity. There's talent, too, with first-round choices in three of the five spots.

REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

Niners fans should be familiar with the warning labels by now.

Injuries: The 49ers were unusually healthy last season. Alex Smith took a league-high 44 sacks and somehow started every game. He started 16 games in a regular season for the first time since 2006 and the second time in his career. The defense suffered very few meaningful injuries in 2011-12, but the hip bruise Aldon Smith suffered last week highlighted the implausibility of a repeat on that front.

Turnovers: History says San Francisco's plus-28 turnover differential will be unsustainable.

Targets on backs: The 49ers are going from hunters to hunted. Opponents will be gunning for them. Opponents will also have fuller, more accurate reads on the schemes Jim Harbaugh and staff brought to the NFL from Stanford. The unconventional shifting and personnel combinations San Francisco unleashed on opponents might not have the same effect a second time around. That might have begun to happen last season, when the 49ers proved far less dominant when facing opponents a second time.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Tarell Brown has been the best cornerback in camp. Teammates say he puts in the prep time. It shows when the 49ers do situational work. The more specific the situation, the better Brown seems to fare. Brown is also probably the 49ers' best corner in press coverage, an asset in short-yardage situations, whereas the other starting corner, Pro Bowl choice Carlos Rogers, tends to prefer off coverage.
  • Jacobs has run effectively in short-yardage situations. I did notice rookie linebacker Kourtnei Brown rocking Jacobs twice in one-on-one pass-rush drills during the team's recent Fan Fest practice.
  • When the 49ers enter their locker room from the practice field, a sign meets them with a list of five points: work hard, stay loose, stay focused, be accountable and take care of one another. The sign greeting them as they leave the locker room reads, "You are getting better or getting worse. You never stay the same."
  • Versatile corner Perrish Cox is making a strong push to unseat Chris Culliver in the nickel role. No matter what happens, Cox figures to play this season. He's made an impact on special teams as well. Seeking continued improvements in the secondary was additionally important with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Drew Brees and Tom Brady on the schedule this season.
  • While Harbaugh has defended Jenkins from premature and unfair criticism, all indications point to a gradual assimilation for the receiver San Francisco selected in the first round. Veteran safety Donte Whitner: "When he gets there, I would compare him to a guy like Robert Meachem. He's not really big in stature, but he has a lot of speed. He has some quickness."
  • Safety Michael Thomas could be an undrafted free agent to watch for the 49ers this season. He knows the defense after playing for coordinator Vic Fangio at Stanford. Whitner: "If I was a betting man, at the end of the season, he'll be somewhere around this football team, whether it be on practice squad or on the 53[-man roster] because he wasn’t drafted, he’s not the biggest guy, not the fastest guy, but he has football instincts and he has football smarts. He’s around the football in practice."
  • The 49ers do a good job maximizing roster spots. They used nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga at fullback in power packages last season. Staley and Sopoaga caught passes. Bruce Miller successfully converted from college defensive end to starting fullback. Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs is the latest project. He's working as a blocking tight end and could conceivably push Nate Byham for the third roster spot at that position. Harbaugh: "He's definitely far enough along. We still don't know what that ceiling is yet."
  • The defense has a firmer grasp of Fangio's playbook entering a second season together. The team had 42 defensive calls installed when this week opened. That's not an unusual number, but Fangio should be able to call more of them with confidence.
  • Every player I spoke with -- Alex Smith, Davis, Williams, Jacobs, Staley and others -- mentioned putting team goals before individual ones. Harbaugh and staff have ingrained that mindset in players. It's a storyline to watch now that the 49ers have additional offensive weapons, a strong personality in Moss and higher expectations overall.
Ted Ginn Jr.'s return to the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year contract, announced by the team Thursday, restores experience and breakaway speed to the return game.

The 49ers badly missed Ginn when an injury sidelined him during the playoffs last season.

The chart ranks the 49ers' current wide receivers by games started last season.
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49ers buy flexibility with Manningham

March, 18, 2012
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Mario Manningham scored go-ahead touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 and again in the NFC Championship Game.

If those plays did not get the 49ers' attention, Manningham's clutch 38-yard reception to sustain the winning touchdown drive in Super Bowl XLVI surely did.

The 49ers' contract agreement with Manningham came as the receiver market was drying up Saturday. It also kept Manningham from signing with an upcoming 49ers opponent. Manningham, 25, visited the St. Louis Rams after meeting with the 49ers.

San Francisco has now added Randy Moss and Manningham to a position that had subtracted Josh Morgan. The 49ers now have Michael Crabtree, Moss, Manningham, Kyle Williams, John Matthews, Joe Hastings, Dontavia Bogan and Kyle Nelson at the position.

Adding Moss and Manningham gives the 49ers flexibility heading into the draft. They should face less pressure to add a receiver in the first round.

The Scouts Inc. report on Manningham heading into the 2011 season said he "runs well but is quicker than fast and gets separation out of his break points with great burst and agility. ... He isn't a physical blocker but is effective at walling off on the perimeter. Manningham is a good, young receiver with big-play ability."

The 49ers will presumably have the 6-foot, 185-pound Manningham work on the blocking part. Morgan was a ferocious blocker for years. Crabtree developed into one last season.

Manningham agreed to a two-year deal. That indicates the 49ers got him at a reasonable price. Most big-money deals run longer, allowing teams to spread out the salary-cap impact.
Ten thoughts as NFL free agency moves through its sixth hour:
  • Red Bryant's re-signing in Seattle stands as the biggest NFC West-related signing to this point, trailed by Josh Morgan's departure from San Francisco to Washington. News on the quarterback front remains slow. If the Seahawks consider former Miami starter Chad Henne, they will not be talking big money.
  • The Chaz Schilens market should be fascinating to watch unfold over the next month. Alas, for all the hype surrounding the few big-name free agents hitting the NFL market Tuesday, lesser-known role players such as Schilens are carrying much of the conversation in this division. Schilens, a part-time starter in Oakland with 72 catches over four seasons, visited Arizona and plans to visit San Francisco.
  • San Francisco appears increasingly justified for signing Randy Moss as free-agent options dissipate. We can remove Vincent Jackson's name from the list of prominent receivers potentially under consideration; he's headed to Tampa Bay on a five-year deal. Pierre Garcon is also off the market, having joined Morgan in reaching agreement with the Redskins. The chart below shows current and recent 49ers receivers, ranked from oldest to youngest. Moss and Michael Crabtree could use some company.
  • Deals for Jackson and other wideouts stand to affect Mike Wallace's asking price, but market conditions are far less favorable for restricted free agents. Wallace, arguably the NFL's top deep threat, remains available for any team willing to make an offer the Steelers would not match. The signing team would have to part with a first-round pick. The 49ers appear less likely to do so after signing Moss.
  • Jim Thomas is pointing to Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan as the Rams' top priority at cornerback in free agency. That means the 49ers' Carlos Rogers is not the Rams' top priority at the position, despite Rogers' ties to Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. What is the market for Rogers? Might the 49ers sign him in the future? They appear to be moving on at the position, though it's too early to say for certain.
  • The Cardinals, having done well to land Daryn Colledge in free agency last offseason, are in the market for another guard. The Titans' Jake Scott is visiting, Thomas and Kent Somers note. Scott turns 31 next month and has started 120 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak for an active guard. Scott played at Idaho while Colledge, 30, was at Boise State.
  • Looks like Seattle and St. Louis have interest in Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones. The Rams would presumably have the inside track. Jones played for new Rams coach Jeff Fisher. St. Louis also has the greater need. The Rams are starting over at defensive tackle.
  • It's tough to know for sure just how hard teams are chasing after certain players. Agents tend to err on the side of overstatement while attempting to build markets for their clients. Too frequently, the same goes for contract figures. Arizona's Kevin Kolb supposedly received $21 million in "guaranteed" money last offseason, but if the Cardinals cut him this week, he'll leave with $12 million -- great money for one partial season as a starter, but not $21 million.
  • The Seahawks could not justify naming tight end John Carlson their franchise player, but re-signing him would give them very good depth at the position. The fact that Carlson visited Kansas City right away shows he's eager to check out opportunities elsewhere, however.
  • The Rams have so far held onto 2009 first-round pick Jason Smith. They could keep him, but with Houston unexpectedly releasing Eric Winston, the Rams will visit with him, Adam Schefter reports. The Rams could do much worse than having Winston and Harvey Dahl on the right side.

Now, on to the chart showing 49ers wide receivers with the team currently or in the recent past ...

File Randy Moss' scheduled workout with the San Francisco 49ers under the "no stone left unturned" category.

ESPN's Adam Schefter says the workout will take place Monday.

The 49ers nearly ran out of healthy wideouts late last season. The position remains one of great need heading into the free-agent signing period, which begins Tuesday.

Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Josh Morgan, Braylon Edwards, Brett Swain and Joe Hastings were among the wide receivers Alex Smith targeted last season. Signing Edwards to a modest deal before the season showed a willingness to take on a higher-profile receiver.

Moss, who recently turned 35, is eligible to sign with any team before free agency. That is because he was not under contract to any team in 2011. He caught nine passes for New England, 13 for Minnesota and six for Tennessee during the 2010 season. He recently revealed intentions to come back for the 2012 season.

Moss does not appear to have strong ties to the 49ers' offensive staff. The 49ers' special-teams coordinator and assistant head coach, Brad Seely, provides one known connection. He and Moss were together in New England.

The 49ers could be interested in gathering information on all the available receivers before free agency begins. The workout could help give them a feel for Moss' expectations and physical condition.
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.
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints offered no surprises when declaring which players would be inactive for their NFC divisional playoff game Saturday.

Niners tight end Delanie Walker (broken jaw) and Saints receiver Lance Moore (hamstring) will not play. The Saints ruled out Moore on Friday. The 49ers did not officially rule out Walker at that time, but coach Jim Harbaugh had previously said Walker would almost certainly miss the game.

Also inactive for the 49ers: quarterback Scott Tolzien, receiver Joe Hastings, cornerback Shawntae Spencer, guard Daniel Kilgore, guard Mike Person and nose tackle Ian Williams.

For the Saints: cornerback Leigh Torrence, linebacker Nate Bussey, guard Eric Olsen, tight end Tory Humphrey, tight end John Gilmore and defensive end Turk McBride.

The 49ers will have receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams after both missed late-season games with injuries. Their presence upgrades the 49ers on special teams as well. Walker's absence makes the 49ers' less dynamic in their two-tight end personnel packages. Walker was also a solid contributor on special teams.

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