Mike Nolan was Mr. Mysterioso today about how he'll deal with Manny Lawson's season-ending injury. He said both a decision on Lawson's roster spot and who will replace Lawson in the starting lineup will be made before Sunday's game.
In all likelihood, Lawson will be placed on injured reserve and the 49ers will bring in a free-agent linebacker to take his roster spot. I spoke to Patrick Estes' agent today and he said the 49ers were not interested in signing his client at the moment. A natural move would be to sign linebacker Roderick Green, someone whom Nolan said would be on the 49ers' "short list" should there be a need at linebacker. Green, however, is a pass-rush specialist and probably wouldn't be as effective at Lawson's position, strong-side linebacker.
Lawson's probable replacement in the starting lineup is Hannibal Navies, who is knowledgeable and versatile enough to play several linebacker positions. Brandon Moore and Parys Haralson also are options, although Haralson, too, is more of a weak-side pass-rusher than a strong-side linebacker. A third option is to elevate Mark Washington from the practice squad. The team is high on Washington's potential although he is another guy who mostly played weak-side linebacker during the offseason.
Why isn't Ashley Lelie getting more of an opportunity? Lelie keeps asking himself the same question. The only thing he can come up with is that the 49ers (read: receivers coach Jerry Sullivan) want him to run routes in a very specific way. "The way I run my routes - I don't know - I guess the quarterback can't tell when I come out of my breaks." Connecting with the quarterback, however, certainly wasn't an issue in the preseason. Lelie was the team's top wide receiver this summer. Is it frustrating to stand on the sideline and watch the 49ers' plodding offense? "It's been frustrating. I'm sort of over the frustration," Lelie said.
Nate Clements was named the GMC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Rams. He beat out Lance Briggs, Roosevelt Colvin, Darren Sharper and Bob Sanders.
The NFL has a new sack leader, and his name is Bryant Young. The veteran defensive end on Thursday was credited with a sack in the first quarter or Sunday's game that originally was awarded to Lawson. That gave Young three sacks on the game and four on the season, which is a half sack more than Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel. Young has had a three-sack game three times in his career. All of them have come against the Rams.
-- Matt Barrows