Cornerback Carlos Rogers said he's on track to return to the defensive lineup on Sunday, and fullback Will Tukuafu may not be far behind him.
Rogers, who suffered a hamstring strain Dec. 29 and who has missed the 49ers' first two playoff games, was walking without a limp Tuesday and said he's increased his sprinting to beyond 20 yards.
"I think I'm going (to play)," he said today. "You know, it depends on how practice goes. No setbacks and I'll be out there."
Rogers hasn't practiced since suffering the injury in the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale against the Cardinals. Tramaine Brock has taken over Rogers' left cornerback spot while Tarell Brown has resumed his starting spot on the right side.
Perrish Cox filled in for Rogers in the nickel position throughout last week's game against the Packers and was in on 20 snaps in the nickel formation against Carolina on Sunday. Rogers would have to convince defensive coordinator Vic Fangio that he has fully recovered to get his starting job back. Fangio has said on more than one occasion that he'd rather have a healthy backup in the game than an injured starter.
Tukuafu, meanwhile, was walking without a limp after suffering a sprained knee when he was dragged down from behind in the first quarter Sunday.
Tukuafu, who started the game at fullback, did not return to the contest. Tests this week showed that the injury was not as severe as originally feared, but a determination on how much time Tukuafu will miss won't be made until later this week.
The 290-pound lead blocker stuck to Jim Harbaugh's policy about not talking about injuries. "Hey, man, I'm here walking around," he said before saying he was "preparing to play." He characterized his injury as "day-to-day."
Tukuafu suffered a sprained MCL, which can keep a player out just a few days or many months depending on the severity. Left tackle Joe Staley, for instance, didn't miss a start after spraining his MCL on Dec. 1 against the Rams. Fellow offensive lineman Mike Iupati, meanwhile, missed four games after spraining his MCL Nov. 17 in New Orleans.
Iupati said Tuesday that both his knee and a shoulder injury that bothered him in the first half of the season were better now as the 49ers prepare to play the Seahawks for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Iupati had perhaps his best game of the season against Carolina's formidable defense, setting a block that helped Colin Kaepernick score a four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and springing Frank Gore on a critical, 39-yard run in the fourth quarter when he took out Panthers inside linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The 49ers have played two of the best defenses in the league - Arizona's and Carolina's - in recent weeks, and Iupati said they needed a similar effort against a Seahawks defense that finished first overall in team defense in the regular season.
"It's going to be a physical game," he said. "They have a great defense, so we've just got to go out there and play football."
-- Matt Barrows