As expected, the 49ers today placed two key offensive players, running back Kendall Hunter (Achilles) and receiver Kyle Williams (ACL), on injured reserve and elevated running back Jewel Hampton to the active roster.
Hampton, an undrafted rookie, had been on the non-football injury list after having surgery to repair bone spurs in his ankle during the offseason. That means the 49ers currently have 52 players on their 53-man active roster. They could make another move, perhaps elevating someone from the practice squad, later this week.
Hunter was second on the team in rushing behind Frank Gore. Those backup carries promise to be divided among several runners, including Brandon Jacobs, Anthony Dixon and rookie LaMichael James, who is similar to
Jacobs Hunter in stature. James has yet to play a snap this season; Jacobs has only one carry.
"He's been practicing hard," Gore said when asked about James. "I know he wants to play. I know if coach Harbaugh decides that he's the next guy (in at running back), coach (Tom) Rathman will get him ready to play."
Hampton has potential. The 5-9, 210 pounder scored seven touchdowns as a freshman at Iowa. He later transferred to Southern Illinois and rushed for 1,121 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
Meanwhile, the team signed former Eagles receiver/returner Chad Hall to the practice squad and released safety Eddie Whitley from the squad.
Neither Colin Kaepernick nor Alex Smith was made available to reporters today. Jim Harbaugh is expected on Wednesday to announce who will start Sunday's game in St. Louis (if word doesn't leak out before then).
No matter the decision, Gore vowed it won't affect the unity inside the 49ers locker room. "We're all as one," he said. "If it's Alex, we're going to be behind Alex. If it's Kap, we're going to be behind Kap."
The 49ers invited some kickers in for tryouts today. David Akers missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter Sunday and had a 33-yard attempt blocked later in the game. The team does not release the names of tryout players.
- Matt Barrows