Jim Harbaugh said it yesterday, and his players reiterated today: The 49ers are preparing for three possible opponents on Jan. 14, but one sticks out. "If I had to take a guess right now, I would think it would be New Orleans, but you never know," safety Donte Whitner said. "You never know. That dome really gives them a home-field advantage."
Harbaugh said on his radio show Wednesday that the 49ers probably would spend a bit more time on the Saints because the percentages suggest that will be the team the 49ers will face. If New Orleans beats Detroit - a team they topped 31-17 on Dec. 4 in the Superdome - they will be the 49ers' opponent no matter the outcome of Sunday's game between Atlanta and New York.
But it's certainly not a foregone conclusion, Whitner said. "Everybody expects New Orleans to win," he said. "But we understand Detroit has a really good football team. They have a guy over there in Megatron (receiver Calvin Johnson) that can win football games by himself."
Bruce Davis, it was nice knowin' ya. The outside linebacker, signed to the practice squad Tuesday, was released today and replaced by outside linebacker Ricky Elmore, a sixth-round pick by the Packers. Elmore got some buzz before the draft and was very productive at the University of Arizona, leading the Pac-10 in sacks in 2009 (10 1/2) and 2010 (11) as a defensive end.
But he was deemed too stiff to play outside linebacker, and he was cut by the Packers before the season began. Still, he has good size (6-4, 256) and it doesn't hurt that he spent time with one of the 49ers' possible playoff opponents.
Kyle Williams confirmed yesterday's report in The Bee that he passed his concussion tests and will practice today. Ted Ginn (ankle), Bruce Miller (knee), Chris Culliver (knee) and Ray McDonald (hamstring) were walking in the locker room without limps. The 49ers will practice later today, but they do not have to release a participation report.
-- Matt Barrows