Protection is going to be a key element in Sunday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Candlestick Park, but the most important position on the offensive line remains undetermined, according to Niners coach Mike Singletary.
Singletary said he still hasn't decided whether to start veteran Barry Sims or Adam Snyder at left tackle in place of Joe Staley, who is out for at least a month with a broken left fibula. Sims, who has been active for just one game this season, took most of the practice snaps this week and seems a logical choice. Snyder injured his right shoulder last Sunday against the St. Louis Rams but is physically well enough to play.
"It could still go either way," Singletary said.
Singletary may have to consider the weather conditions, which figure to be sloppy from weekend rain. Sims said he enjoys a wet, muddy field.
"That's the way football is meant to be played," he said. "I've always enjoyed getting dirty. It makes football fun."
BAD BUC: Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Williams will play Sunday despite his arrest on a DUI charge early Friday. Williams leads NFL rookies in receiving yards (627) and is second in receiving touchdowns (5).
Bucs coach Raheem Morris said he was "very disappointed about the bad decision (Williams) made to stay out late and about the worse decision he made to have a drink and drive with it. He was cooperative. I did get my reports back on that, so I was very pleased with his ability to be cooperative and not be disrespectful and make this thing even worse than it could be." Morris said Williams will be disciplined internally.
NOTES: Linebacker Travis LaBoy, who expressed concerned that he might be fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit on St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford last Sunday, confirmed he avoided a league penalty. … Kicker Joe Nedney (knee) and tackle Joe Staley (broken leg) are out for Sunday's game. Listed as doubtful: cornerback Will James (concussion). Probable: running back Frank Gore (foot), cornerback Nate Clements (quadriceps) and guard Adam Snyder (shoulder). … Alex Smith will be the 49ers' No. 2 quarterback for the game. It will mark the first time he'll be in uniform since he suffered a separated left shoulder Oct. 24 at Carolina. … The 49ers are 15-3 all time against the Bucs and 11-1 at Candlestick. The last time they lost to Tampa Bay at home was 1980.