Two of the Rams top players, quarterback Sam Bradford and defensive end Chris Long, missed practice today with ankle injuries. Bradford originally injured his left ankle on Oct. 16, then tweaked it in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. A.J. Feeley handled all of the team's quarterback duties on Thursday.
Both Bradford and Long were listed as "limited" on Wednesday's injury report.
Long has emerged as one of the league's top pass rushers this season. He has 10 sacks this year, including at least one in five straight games. He had a sack in each of the games he played against the 49ers last year. He told St. Louis beatwriter Jim Thomas today that he is "100 percent" certain to play Sunday against the 49ers.
Asked about the merits of giving top backup Colin Kaepernick some playing time at quarterback at some point in the next five games, offensive coordinator Greg Roman today said, 'That's something we would talk about, definitely something we would consider."
It's hard to quantify Kaepernick's progress this year, but he echoed his coaches today in saying he's considerably more comfortable now than he was at the beginning of the season. One item of note: Kaepernick said that when he took mental repetitions during a game early in the season, he would watch what Alex Smith would do. Nowadays he's watching the defense.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, meanwhile, said he didn't think the 49ers would have an opportunity to rest starters because everything the 49ers are playing for - including a first-round bye - likely will not be decided until Week 17. "It might be a moot point," he said.
The Wednesday lesson from poker star Phil Hellmuth was all about staying mentally focused, especially when your stack of chips is towering over that of the three other opponents' at the table.
"He faces that every year in his championships," receiver Brett Swain said. "And he told us that even though he's ahead in the chip count, he can't start thinking he'll be at that final table, he still has to make sure he's making all the right moves and not slipping up anywhere else because before you know it, you could be out of there. It kind of all tied together and was pretty cool."
Swain, meanwhile, likely will be active on Sunday if Braylon Edwards (knee/shoulder) doesn't play. Swain seemed to indicate that Edwards might miss more than one game. "They're saying Braylon's going to do some rehab in the next week or two and they're trying to get him ready for the playoffs," Swain said. "I'm planning on being active this week and being ready to roll and making sure I'm ready to go when they need me."
-- Matt Barrows