One of the 49ers' injured Pro Bowl offensive linemen, Joe Staley, is on his way to get an MRI on his wounded right knee today while another, Mike Iupati, has a chance to return to action this week. Jim Harbaugh said Iupati will have an exam today to check the state of his knee.
"Today will be an important day," Harbaugh said. "We'll check in with him and see how things are tightening up there. And (we) have good hopes."
Iupati suffered the same injury as Staley, a sprained MCL, on Nov. 17 against the Saints. He's missed the two games since but was moving around without a limp last week and said he was close to returning to the field.
Staley is walking without crutches today, and the MRI will determine the severity of the injury. But he is likely to miss at least Sunday's game against Seattle, which means that Alex Boone would start the game at left tackle. Asked if, under that scenario, Joe Looney would continue to play at right guard, Harbaugh said, "Uh, yeah."
Looney, who had been inactive for the first 30 games of his career, played 90 percent of the 49ers offensive snaps on Sunday. "Joe Looney did a good job," Harbaugh said. "You know, he was confident. He went right at guys. I thought he played really well."
Asked why Looney, and not Daniel Kilgore, was given the job at right guard, Harbaugh said that while Kilgore splits his practice repetitions at center and guard, Looney has been practicing exclusively at guard. He plays a lot of right guard in particular because the starter there, Boone, is the team's emergency tackle.
Kilgore also has a steady role as an extra offensive linemen in the 49ers' power-running packages.
-- Matt Barrows