Jeff Fisher not expecting to face Aldon Smith this week

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The San Francisco 49ers enter Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams with the inherent advantage of coming off a bye week and a number of players returning to health.

The Rams, meanwhile, head toward that meeting with 13 players on their injury report, eight of whom were listed as non-participants in Wednesday's walk-through. They are also coming off a 34-7 drubbing at Kansas City in the middle of a three-game road stretch.

Needless to say, the 49ers don't need any more advantages, whether real or perceived. So as rumors swirl about the potential early return of 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith from his original nine-game suspension, Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it clear Wednesday that he doesn't expect Smith to be available this week.

More to the point, Fisher believes if the NFL was going to make Smith available this late in the week, it should have done so earlier since the game-planning that his team has already done hasn't accounted for Smith.

"He’s a good football player," Fisher said. "I would expect it to be unlikely this late. I think I would have liked to have known about it earlier in the week from a game-planning standpoint, but we can’t control what happens at the league office. If he’s reinstated and plays, we’re going to have to block him. So we’ll just wait and see."

Smith has two games left on the nine-game suspension he received before the season for violations of the league's personal conduct policy and substance abuse program. The rumor mill has indicated a possible reduction in that suspension based on apparent good behavior.

So far, nothing has come from those rumors and it doesn't appear a reduction is imminent. That doesn't mean it won't happen, as the league has made similar unexpected decisions on such matters before.

Even without Smith, the 49ers sacked Rams quarterback Austin Davis five times in the first meeting on Oct. 13. Adding Smith, who has 42 sacks in 43 regular-season games, would make things tougher on a Rams team that will give rookie Greg Robinson his first start at left tackle Sunday.

"I’ve got a pretty good left tackle out there right now that’s going to get better and better," Fisher said. "So we’ll see."