As Steve Mariucci walked into a conference room at 49ers headquarters for his usual Monday meeting with the media, he chimed with excitement, “It’s Raiders week – tape your ankles.” And then, over the next 25 minutes, the Niners’ head coach didn’t say another word about San Francisco’s Bay Area rival, whom the Niners meet this Sunday in Oakland. Obviously, Mariucci has more pressing concerns to talk about.
Such as injuries.
Mariucci spent plenty of time talking about those Monday. He had a long list to discuss.
“Let’s do the injuries … and see how many guys we have to play this week,” Mariucci said.
The Niners had a difficult time finding 45 healthy players to have active for Sunday’s 38-28 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (NFL teams must designate eight players from their 53-man roster inactive for each game). It could be even more difficult this week against the Raiders after several players were added to the injury register after the Arizona game.
Going down the list:
--- Rookie guard Eric Heitmann, who has been playing well as the starting left guard in place of the injured Dave Fiore, suffered a concussion against the Cardinals. “We’re going to have to kind of wait and see how he feels before we allow him to practice on Wednesday,” Mariucci said.
--- Defensive tackle Bryant Young strained his right shoulder and had a Magnetic Resonance Imaging exam, which revealed no further damage.
--- Center Jeremy Newberry has a turf toe, not a right ankle sprain as originally reported Sunday night. Newberry had X-rays on his foot, which revealed no broken bones. “We might have to limit him in practice this week. Those turf foes, they can linger once in a while,” Mariucci said.
--- Starting tailback Garrison Hearst, who was questionable for the Arizona game and played limited snaps due to a strained right hamstring, “really had no setbacks,” Mariucci said. “He’s sore. He’s probably going to be limited in practice this week with that hamstring, but we kept him out of that last quarter, and hopefully he’ll just continue to get better and better as we proceed.”
--- Linebacker Jamie Winborn, who suffered ligament damage in his left knee on Sept. 22 and hasn’t played since, will attempt a gradual return to practice this week, but he’s listed as doubtful. “He’s going to try to run and move around, and maybe do some individual (drills),” Mariucci said. “He hasn’t practiced at all, so we’ll just see how it goes. Hopefully he can practice some this week, and then play next week. That would probably be the realistic thing.”
--- Safety Zack Bronson (broken bone in left foot) still is on crutches and out until at least December.
--- Starting tight end Eric Johnson, who missed the Arizona game with back problems, had an epidural injection Monday to help calm down some of the spasms in his lower back. “He’s going to rest, and more rest, and then more rest,” Mariucci said. Johnson is questionable for the Raiders.
--- Starting linebacker Jeff Ulbrich had an MRI exam Monday on his left knee, the same knee he injured against the Raiders in the preseason that forced him to miss the first two games of the season. “It’s a little bit different injury, I guess,” Mariucci said. “We’ll know more later.” Ulbrich said he’ll be fine and would be “ready to play Wednesday.”
--- Defensive end John Engelberger played seven snaps against Arizona after coming back from a right ankle sprain that has bothered him for the past month. “He’s sore today, but he should be up again (against the Raiders), but maybe limited in practice,” Mariucci said.
--- Rookie linebacker Saleem Rasheed, who didn’t play against Arizona, has a strained right quadriceps and is doubtful for the Raiders. “He hasn’t run at all yet. He might move around a little bit this week,” Mariucci said. “We’ll just keep treating him and get him back as soon as possible.”
--- Fullback Paul Smith, who missed four games with a strained left hamstring, was activated Sunday as an emergency fullback because the Niners simply had no other healthy players to make active. “We did suit him up just in case of an emergency, and hoped not to play him, which we didn’t,” Mariucci said. “But he should be a little bit healthier this week for this game.”
“So there you have it,” Mariucci said.
And there you have the injury bug the Niners will be working to overcome this week as they prepare for the Raiders.