With the Arizona Cardinals set to host the San Francisco 49ers, one thing that has come out in the news is how Patrick Willis is likely going to miss the game on Sunday. Then starting CB Carlos Rogers missed practice on Wednesday. So instead of the five questions we typically do for opposing blogs (as if the blogs were battling each other), Niners Nation and ROTB traded info. They wondered about Kevin Kolb and we I wondered about the injuries from their perspective.
Thanks to Dave Fucillo, we have a Niners fan/writer perspective on their key player injuries.
On Patrick Willis:
Willis is walking alright, but the team is being extra cautious with him. While Rogers is expected to be available Sunday, Willis is expected to be sidelined. Larry Grant will start in his place next to NaVorro Bowman. Grant was a seventh-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2008, but was released and signed with the St. Louis Rams. He spent three seasons in St. Louis before getting cut this offseason due to a lack of consistency.
Grant signed a one-year deal with the 49ers and has been primarily a special teams player. Sunday against the Rams was his first truly extensive playing time and he took advantage of it. He was tied for the team lead in tackles and also added a sack of A.J. Feeley.
Losing Willis for the game is definitely a downgrade at the linebacker position, but NaVorro Bowman has played well enough that the team can overcome it to some extent. Willis had spent more time recently dropping back into coverage on tight ends and playing further away from the line. He was still a big-time playmaker, but Bowman has done a lot more of the dirty work this season. It will be interesting to see if the Cardinals try and get the ball to their tight ends. Willis has been extremely solid in coverage, and it remains to be seen how well Grant can fill that role for now.
What I get from this is that we really need Kevin Kolb to be able to hit either Rob Housler or Todd Heap in the seam and take advantage of the absence because the running game does not seem like it will necessarily be any more successful just because Willis is not playing.
On Carlos Rogers:
The word out of practice was that Carlos Rogers did not suffer a serious injury and expects to play on Sunday. He was wearing a wrap on his left knee and not practicing, but he is expected to be available on Sunday. We'll see how the week develops. If he was unable to go, Tarell Brown becomes the #1 corner and rookie Chris Culliver becomes the #2, with Tramaine Brock and Shawntae Spencer mixed in as the third and fourth cornerbacks. Brown is having a solid year and Culliver is showing some great things as a rookie corner. But for now I'd expect Rogers out there.
It is worth noting that the 49ers often move their guys around and in nickel sets, Rogers often covers the slow receiver, so you could see a host of defenders on Larry Fitzgerald throughout the game.
Rogers was back at practice on Thursday, saying that missing Wednesday was precautionary. Sounds like he will be lined up opposite Fitz Sunday afternoon.