Delanie Walker has graduated from soups and shakes and moved on to fruits and pastas. But the 49ers' tight end is a long way from returning to practice and doesn't know whether he will be able to rejoin the 49ers for their playoff run. Walker broke his jaw in two places - one fracture occurred high on the left side of his face, the other low in his chin area - in the first quarter of the team's game on Dec. 24. Speaking publicly for the first time since the injury on Friday, Walker said he did not suffer a concussion on the play.
On Wednesday, Walker was cleared to do some conditioning drills at the team facility and the wiring of his jaw was released a bit, enabling him to talk and enabling him to finally get off his liquid diet. Far from seeing whether Walker can play an NFL game, at this time doctors are more interested to see how the jaw reacts to smaller things like talking and chewing.
The 49ers bought themselves some extra time in deciding what to do with Walker by earning a bye this weekend. Still, Walker is unlikely to play in the team's Jan. 14 game, and the 49ers may be forced to make a decision on his future next week. The team brought in former Chiefs tight end Cody Slate for a workout on Tuesday and could also promote practice squad player Konrad Reuland to the active roster.
Walker was noticeably subdued in speaking with reporters today. "It's emotional. First time in the playoffs, and then I get hurt," he said. "Not being able to play kind of hurts. But the team is doing well, and I'm recovering in the way I want to recover."
Walker said he would focus on staying in shape until the 49ers make a decision on his immediate future. He said he did not lose much weight while he was on the liquid diet. "I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I'm just here to try to get back in shape working out. I don't know what's going to happen, whether I'm going to be back or not."
-- Matt Barrows