49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

December 26, 2011
Harbaugh crossing fingers that Walker returns for playoffs


Delanie Walker will miss "a period of time" following his head injury Saturday, according to Jim Harbaugh, but the hope is that the 49ers tight end will return during the postseason. Walker was kneed in the side of the helmet in the first quarter, a collision that knocked his helmet downfield several yards and left Walker lying on the turf for several minutes. He was carted off the field clutching his jaw and did not return to the game. Harbaugh declined to say whether Walker had a broken jaw as Walker's teammates on Saturday suggested.

"We're going to have to make some decisions, some planning - we're preparing," Harbaugh said. Asked if the team would have to make a roster move, Harbaugh said that hadn't been decided. "If there's a shot that he comes back for the postseason, we'd rather not make a roster move with him," Harbaugh said. He said the 49ers wouldn't know if Walker will be able to return for another seven to 10 days.

With Walker out of action, the team has two tight ends on the active roster - Vernon Davis and Justin Peelle, who stepped in for Walker on Saturday. The 49ers also could activate undrafted rookie Konrad Reuland, who is a member of their practice squad. Reuland was a prolific pass catcher during training camp and the preseason (four catches for 38 yards). The 49ers wanted him to gain strength and improve his blocking this season.

Tonight's game also could influence the 49ers decision. If the Falcons beat the Saints, the 49ers will be guaranteed the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. That means they wouldn't have to beat the Rams in Sunday's finale and will have a bye in the opening week of the playoffs. That would give Walker nearly three weeks to heal.

Michael Crabtree's 41-yard catch in the fourth quarter drew raves from Harbaugh after the game but jeers from the Seahawks who said Crabtree pushed off the defensive back. Said Harbaugh today: "Clean play all the way. Any comment that it was not is full of bologna."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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