- Stephania Bell, Fantasy Sports
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It’s an NFC West matchup Thursday night between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams. Three weeks into the season, both teams stand at 1-2 (as do the Arizona Cardinals) while the Seattle Seahawks are perfect atop the division (3-0).
Injuries certainly can play a part in how this matchup will unfold, not to mention how fantasy owners will view their rosters heading into Week 4.
Here’s a look at where key fantasy players for the 49ers and Rams stand in terms of injuries.
San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore, RB, knee (probable): Gore has some soreness in his knee, which isn’t unusual. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the team had lightened his workload early in the week -- especially on a short week --but Gore turned in full practices, according to the team’s injury practice report. He is going to play and is not expected to be limited.
Vernon Davis, TE, hamstring (questionable): Like last week, Davis again will be a game-time decision, but the general consensus is that he has a better chance to play this week, as ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson notes. After injuring his left hamstring in San Francisco’s brutal loss in Seattle, Davis -- who attempted only light running the week before -- was held out of the Week 3 contest. Not only is the risk of re-injury high with any hamstring strain, but it seemed particularly wise to keep Davis on the sideline, given that the 49ers were set to play the Rams just four days later.
So far this week, Davis has participated in practice on a limited basis, but it’s unclear just how much he has pushed the hamstring in those efforts. Regardless, no practice can simulate a game, so it won’t be known until he plays -- and gets through a game without a setback -- whether he has indeed recovered. As usual, Davis will go through pregame warm-ups to test the hamstring and ultimately determine his game status.
Kyle Williams, WR, rib/knee (questionable): Williams practiced on a limited basis this week due to rib and knee injuries. The 49ers are generally vague about injuries, making it difficult to assess whether he is truly in jeopardy of missing the game or getting proactive rest. The rumblings are that Williams is likely to play, but there could be another wrinkle at the receiver position. Earlier in the week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that coach Jim Harbaugh hinted at the possible debut of Jon Baldwin, acquired in August from the Chiefs in a trade for A.J. Jenkins.
Defensive players: The 49ers will be without the pass-rushing skills of Aldon Smith, who is on indefinite leave while seeking treatment for substance abuse. Their defense could be further compromised by the potential absence of linebacker Patrick Willis, who suffered a groin injury in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Colts. Willis did not practice this week, and while the team lists him as questionable, there is a decent chance he will not be able to play.
St. Louis Rams
Daryl Richardson, RB, foot (probable): Richardson’s foot has had him on the injury report since Week 2, and last week it kept him out of virtually the entire game (he exited in the first quarter). However, Richardson put in full practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and made it clear that he expects to play Thursday. Given his “probable” tag, Richardson’s game status does not appear to be in doubt.
The question then becomes what the workload split will be like among Richardson and the Rams’ other backs, most notably Isaiah Pead. Last week, Pead saw more work when Richardson exited the game, but a healthier Richardson doesn’t necessarily clarify the RB picture, as ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner notes. “We’re a running back committee right now,” Pead said. “Daryl is the starter, but whoever gets in there has to answer the call.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes he “had more spring to his step” this week in practice. Expect Richardson to be on the field as the starter Thursday night.
Chris Givens, WR, knee (probable): The knee issue Givens is dealing with kept him off the practice field Monday but is reported to be not serious. Givens returned to full practice Tuesday (typically the heaviest day before a Thursday game) and did the same Wednesday. With his “probable” tag, he is expected to play.
Defensive players: St. Louis will be without defensive end William Hayes, who injured his knee in last week’s contest (a sprained MCL, according to a Fox Sports report) and has been ruled out of Thursday night’s game.