The decision to release wide receiver Braylon Edwards, coupled with injuries to Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams and Delanie Walker leaves the 49ers incredibly thin at the receiver and tight end positions. At receiver, Michael Crabtree and Brett Swain are the only currently healthy receivers, although Ginn might be close to coming back. Beyond that, the team is looking at potential receiver options that will likely include their practice squad players, Joe Hastings and John Matthews.
The tight end position still has Vernon Davis, and Justin Peele can operate in a blocking role. However, as Danny Tuccitto pointed out, the loss of Walker could really hamper the 49ers formation diversity. They use Walker in four or five different roles, which allows them to create mismatches and confuse opposing defenses with their abundant formations.
Now, the 49ers head into St. Louis looking for the proverbial next man up, but they find themselves in a position where there likely won't be a traditional "next man." The team waived Braylon Edwards, thus creating room for one addition. Given the short-handed nature of the team, it will be interesting to see how the play-calling is impacted this Sunday against the Rams.
Whatever you think of the 2011 version of the Rams, the 49ers still have to figure out a way to make plays on offense and get some points on the board. I suspect we'll see a whole lot of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and maybe even some Anthony Dixon to keep things fresh. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis will likely be prominently involved as well.
The 49ers still have several strong skill position players available, but obviously not as many as they had prior to all these injuries. The team doesn't employ the most dynamic of offensive game-plans at times, but even still, coming in further short-handed puts them in a position where we might see a whole lot more running than normal. The Rams bring a struggling rush defense that the 49ers will look to gash. They will air it out when needed, but this looks to be a power rushing game all the way.