SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers still haven't settled on a left tackle to replace injured starter Joe Staley, but the likely candidate is sitting just two lockers away at the team's practice facility.
Most 49ers fans might not recognize Barry Sims because he hasn't played much this season. Heck, Sims has suited up for just one game, against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, and was in for just one offensive snap and a few special teams plays.
But said he'll be ready if he's called to start Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's about being a pro," Sims said Wednesday. "If you're not a starter, you're always one play away from being in there. So as a filler, you have to prepare yourself accordingly. Being in the league 12 years, I've learned and seen a lot of things happen. I know that I would really kick myself if I wasn't staying on top of my physical fitness as well as my mental preparation each week."
Sims has probably earned the trust of his coaches after playing well in seven games last season after Staley went down with a knee ligament injury.
"I thought he did a very nice job last year," coach Mike Singletary said. "He's pretty fresh this year. We just have to see what it looks like and how it works out and we'll make a decision before the game."
One other option is Adam Snyder, who started at right guard last Sunday but had to come out because of a right shoulder sprain. Singletary said he's hopeful Snyder will return to practice this week.
SAFETY ISSUES: Singletary said safeties Reggie Smith and Taylor Mays will continue to share playing time, although it was Smith who got most of the defensive snaps against the Rams last Sunday. So who's going to start Sunday against the Bucs?
"I think we're going to continue to work Reggie and Taylor in there," Singletary said. "There may not be a starter right now. But we'll let that work itself out. Right now, it's a combination of both those two, and we'll try to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of both of them."
Asked about Smith, Singletary said, "He's a good football player. Taylor's a good football player. They both have strengths and weaknesses, and we've got to continue to look at which guy deserves to be out there the whole time."
RECORD BREAKER: Informed that Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is close to breaking his team record for career tackles, Singletary said: "I don't really think about stuff like that. If he breaks the record, praise God, more power to him, fantastic. I'm happy for him. But I don't really get into that. It comes down to, I hope he stays healthy and continues to play well. That's a good thing."