Mike Iupati again was on an elliptical machine when 49ers practice started today, but this time fellow offensive lineman Joe Staley was not there beside him. Instead Staley was on the field with the rest of his teammates, raising the prospect that he'll play against the Seahawks and that the 49ers will keep the offensive line shuffling to a minimum.
The 49ers listed Staley as limited on Thursday's practice report. Tight end Vance McDonald (ankle) also was limited after missing Wednesday's session. Two others, Frank Gore (ankle) and Ray McDonald (ankle) practiced in full after being limited Thursday. Iupati was the only 49er who did not practice.
Staley suffered an MCL sprain in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Rams, and after testing his knee on the sideline, he went to the locker room and missed the rest of the contest. He had an MRI on Monday, which showed a Grade 1 sprain, which usually is a one- to two-week-long injury.
With Staley missing against St. Louis, the 49ers shifted starting right guard Alex Boone to left tackle and inserted seldom-used reserve Joe Looney at right guard. Looney received praise for his aggressive style of play against the Rams. But with Seattle's ferocious defense arriving on Sunday, the 49ers would rather go with a veteran at the position.
Iupati suffered a more severe MCL sprain on Nov. 17. If he can't play, Adam Snyder would make his third straight start.
-- Matt Barrows