The San Francisco 49ers head into their Week 5 matchup with the Texans facing a rather lengthy injury list. They have eight players listed as questionable, but thankfully most of them are expected to play on Sunday Night Football. All eight names are notable, as guys who are starters in some form or fashion. Nnamdi Asmougha technically isn't a starter, but as the nickel corner, he got plenty of snaps.
We had a brief breakdown of the injury report on Friday, but I wanted to focus in on a few of the more pertinent players on the questionable list. The questionable players are Nnamdi Asomugha, Anthony Davis, Vernon Davis, Ray McDonald, Bruce Miller, Carlos Rogers, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis.
What we know: The 49ers inside linebacker missed last week's game with a groin injury suffered the week before against the Indianapolis Colts. He sat out practice leading up to the Rams game, but returned in limited form all three days this past week. He is listed as questionable and seems like a true game-time decision.
What it means: NaVorro Bowman stepped up in a big way for the 49ers, playing like a man possessed. Had Patrick Peterson not had his own huge day for the Cardinals, Bowman likely would have won defensive player of the week. He remains a force whether or not Willis is in the lineup, but against the Texans, it would be huge to have Willis back. Michael Wilhoite is a solid inside linebacker, but against an offense like the Texans, they need their top options. Running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate present one challenge coming out of the backfield, but then Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham present another significant challenge. The 49ers can win without Willis, but it would be such a huge boost having both of their all-world linebackers.
Prediction: Willis plays. Getting into practice is a big step forward for him. I'm probably 60 to 70 percent confident in that prediction, if even that.
What we know: Vernon Davis strained his hamstring late in the 49ers loss to the Seahawks. Davis sat out all three practices leading up to the Colts game. He came out for warmups but was a late scratch. The following week, Davis was a limited participant in all three practices leading up to Thursday Night Football. Davis played, and finished the game with two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown. Over the last week, he was a limited participant.
What it means: Having Vernon Davis on the field is a huge boost for Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin. Even if Davis does not get his numbers, he clears out space for Boldin, and provides strong blocking for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter.
Prediction: Davis plays. We have not heard anything about any setback since Thursday Night Football, so I think we see him.
What we know: Davis suffered a shoulder injury in the 49ers Week 3 loss to the Colts, although we never got any details on it. He was limited in the three days leading up to the Rams game, listed as questionable on the final report, and played that Thursday. This past week, Davis sat out Wednesday's practice, and then was listed as limited on Thursday and Friday.
What it means: Davis and Alex Boone are likely to see a lot of J.J. Watt on Sunday, so it is imperative that he play. Davis is not at 100 percent, which will be something to watch when Watt & Co. are bringing the heat. I wonder if the Texans try and challenge Davis a bit more given his shoulder issues?
Prediction: Davis plays. He sat out Monday, but with the extra rest since Week 4, I don't see how he misses Sunday Night Football.
What we know: Nnamdi suffered a knee injury in the 49ers Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He sat out all three practices leading up to the Rams game, and was inactive for the game. This past week he was listed as limited for all three practice sessions.
What it means: The 49ers used Tramaine Brock in his place as the nickel back against the Rams. Brock looked very solid, leading many of us to hope that he'll get another week of work. Vic Fangio indicated Brock was likely going to get the third cornerback duties once again.
Prediction: Nnamdi is inactive. If Brock is going to get the nickel duties, I'm not sure I see the point in activating Nnamdi. Perrish Cox is handling backup slot duties behind Carlos Rogers, and Darryl Morris is more likely to play special teams.
The remaining questionable players include Ray McDonald, Bruce Miller, Carlos Rogers and Justin Smith. All four were limited in practice all week. Ray McDonald and Justin Smith were both listed as limited on last week's report. Carlos Rogers was a full participant. Bruce Miller is the only new addition. We have not heard anything on any of these four, and they would seem likely to play on Sunday.
49ers Injury Report
Out: WR Quinton Patton (foot)
Questionable: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (knee), OT Anthony Davis (shoulder), TE Vernon Davis (hamstring), DT Ray McDonald (ankle), RB Bruce Miller (quadricep), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), DT Justin Smith (shoulder), LB Patrick Willis (groin)
Texans Injury Report
Out: G Brandon Brooks (toe), LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring)
Questionable: T Duane Brown (toe), WR Andre Johnson (shin)
Probable: LB Bryan Braman (hamstring, shoulder), LB Brian Cushing (concussion), TE Owen Daniels (knee), RB Arian Foster (thumb, back), TE Garrett Graham (hip, groin), RB Greg Jones (foot, groin), CB Johnathan Joseph (not injury related), CB Brice McCain (knee), C Chris Myers (biceps), T Derek Newton (knee), S Eddie Pleasant (hamstring), WR DeVier Posey (achilles), S Ed Reed (hip, abdomen), LB Darryl Sharpton (foot, hip), GWade Smith (knee), RB Ben Tate (shoulder), DE J.J. Watt (groin, nose)