With Ted Ginn (knee) ailing this week, the 49ers are right back where they were last year - with a lot of question marks about who will handle return duties in their upcoming game. As was the case last week, Singletary kept things vague as far as who might handle returns Monday night against New Orleans.
He said that Ginn "is a day-to-day situation and we have to continue to observe it." Ginn did not practice Thursday. On kick returns, if Ginn can't go the job could fall to one of three players: Josh Morgan, Dominique Zeigler or Delanie Walker, who has handled 22 kick returns in four seasons.
On punt returns, Singletary said, "It could be the kid, the young kid, Phillip Adams." Adams, a seventh-round draft choice in April, handled punts in the final two exhibition games, returning one 83 yards for a touchdown. Singletary also said that Zeigler could fill in on punts. It's also worth noting that rookie Kyle Williams was limited in practice Thursday, his first practice session since spraining a big toe Aug. 15. If Williams were healthy, he'd likely be the team's top choice for punt returns.
At the end of 2008, outside linebacker Parys Haralson seemed poised to become the team's sack master. But he had a quiet 2009 season, a quiet 2010 preseason and didn't have a sack or a quarterback hurry Sunday against Seattle. In fact, he has one half sack in his last five regular season starts.
Still, Singletary doesn't envision any changes to his starting lineup when it comes to outside linebacker. Ahmad Brooks is back at practice after suffering a kidney laceration Aug. 6. (Here's Brooks, who lacerated his left kidney, being welcomed back by Shawntae Spencer). Travis LaBoy, meanwhile, had a strong preseason and came away with the team's only sack in Seattle.
Singletary said he didn't which outside linebackers would suit up against Drew Brees and the Saints. "It's going to be a tough call. We just have to continue to evaluate throughout the week, and we'll see how it looks and what's better for the team at the end of the week."
Given how many quality receivers the Saints can put on the field at one time, the 49ers' No. 4 cornerback could be a factor in Monday's game. The 49ers would love it if that No. 4 guy were Will James, who is still recovering from an ankle sprain suffered on August 15. James did not practice today. "Thankfully we have an extra day, but we'll see how that works out," Singletary said of James. If James can't play, Adams would be the No. 4 cornerback.
Chilo Rachal (stinger) did not practice and Patrick Willis (thumb, knee) was limited. Willis' injuries are not believed to be serious. Rachal went in and out of Sunday's game after suffering the injury. He was first replaced by Tony Wragge, then Adam Snyder filled in in the second half.
-- Matt Barrows