Pop quiz: Who led the 49ers in receiving when the Giants visited Candlestick Park earlier this year? If you guessed, "Delanie Walker," give yourself a pat on the back and then start stewing over whether the tight end will be on hand for the rematch.
Jim Harbaugh kept Walker's (broken jaw) status cloudy today, and the head coach is unlikely to clear up the mystery until just before kickoff. What is clear is that the 49ers badly could use another offensive weapon Sunday against the Giants, especially with starting receiver Ted Ginn hobbling around on ankle and knee injuries this week.
Alex Smith's best option Saturday against New Orleans, obviously, was tight end Vernon Davis, whom he targeted 10 times and who ended with 180 receiving yards. But the blitz-crazy Saints often covered Davis with only one defender, something the Giants are very unlikely to do. During the teams' Nov. 13 meeting, the Giants held Davis to three catches for 40 yards, although one of them was a 31-yard touchdown that came when New York's young linebacker botched a coverage assignment.
Harbaugh was very careful today to point out that New York's linebacking corps, which was banged up at midseason, is healthier and better than it was in Week 10. But linebacking still is the Giants' defensive weakness. Walker caught six passes for 69 yards against the Giants in the 49ers 27-20 win, which isn't just a season high but a career high for the tight end. Having him and Davis in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 24 would be a significant - a very significant -- boost to the 49ers' offense.
-- Matt Barrows