A play that hurts: Davis breaks leg; Gore OK

Talk about plays that hurt. The 49ers not only saw their hopes dashed Sunday by a fumble near the Philadelphia goal line that defensive tackle Mike Patterson turned into a 98-yard touchdown return, they also lost two of their top offensive weapons to injury on the play. And one of them will remain out for at least a month.

It all started with a third-and-goal play from the Philadelphia 1-yard line with the Eagles leading 24-3 in the third quarter, but with the 49ers on the doorstep of cutting into that lead and getting some momentum on their side.

But Gore, who had been stuffed from the 1 on both first and second down, gave it a third try, and this time both he and the 49ers paid for it.

Philly safety Brian Dawkins crashed into Gore from the right side, causing not only the fumble, but also an abdominal injury that kept Gore out for the remainder of the game after he'd gained 52 yards on 16 carries.

Coach Mike Nolan said after the game that he didn't know the extent of the injury and that Gore would be listed as questionable for next week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

But team sources said later in the evening that Gore's injury was not severe and he has a good chance to be ready for next week's game.

That's not the case for tight end Vernon Davis, however, whom Nolan said in his post-game news conference also would be listed as questionable for the Chiefs with a leg injury.

Davis' injury, however, is much worse than that.

The team's first-round draft pick this year emerged in the team locker room on crutches and promptly announced that he would be out four weeks with a broken leg.

"I already had an X-ray," Davis said. "It's a fracture to my fibula in my right leg. No surgery, just therapy."

When pressed further about the injury, which happened while Davis was attempting to run down Patterson, Davis said, "I have about four weeks. I'll be back in four weeks. I was running on it and I just strained it, that's about it. Someone hit me in the side of my leg at practice during the week and it got bruised. I strained it there, but I played on it. I pulled it a little bit early in the game, but I still played on it. I came in and took some extra-strength Tylenol, but I had to play on it because I wanted to win."

Davis said the fracture went down his leg while he was attempting to catch Patterson.

"I've never been injured in my life," said Davis, who was held without a reception for the second game in a row. "It's an experience. I'm not going to get down on myself, because I knew that one day I would get an injury that I would miss games from. I hate to miss games, but I'll just bounce back from it and be ready to go."

With Davis out, Eric Johnson became a featured target in the 49ers' passing attack and finished with a game-high seven receptions for 87 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Alex Smith.

Johnson likely will become San Francisco's regular tight end while Davis is out. The Niners may also get back rookie tight end Delanie Walker this week.

Walker, who displayed the ability to be a legitimate offensive weapon during the preseason, missed San Francisco's first three games with a dislocated shoulder. But he returned to practice in a limited fashion last week and could be ready to return to full-scale drills when the Niners begin preparing for Kansas City on Wednesday.


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