49ers player notes

A detailed list of player notes and updates while running down the 49ers roster as the team prepares for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Monster Park in San Francisco.

LB Derek Smith: The 10th-year veteran has a strained muscle in his left eye that limits the movement of his eyeball up and to the left. Smith has played with the condition most of the season and it has affected his play adversely. Smith opted not to have surgery to correct the problem because such a procedure would have ended his season. Doctors told Smith the strain was likely the result of a hit to his head sustained during a game. Smith tried to wear a clear visor during last week's game at Chicago that had a prism on the left side to expand his range of vertical sight, but he was not comfortable with the device and had it removed at halftime. Smith leads the 49ers with 60 tackles in seven games - 13 more than any other player on the team - and is on course to lead the team in that category for the sixth consecutive season.

DT Isaac Sopoaga: The third-year veteran, who played in all 16 games last year, was not active for Sunday's game against Chicago for the first time in his career with the team (he spent his rookie season in 2004 on injured reserve). Sopoaga had the inside track on winning the starting nose tackle slot entering training camp, but he has not improved since this summer and the team hopes he begins playing with a greater sense of urgency or else he will not be dressing for games. Sopoaga has just four tackles this season, but also had a key fumble recovery in San Francisco's Week 2 victory over St. Louis.

DT Damane Duckett: Called up from San Francisco's practice squad in September, Duckett was active for the third time this season but did not record a tackle while seeing limited playing time on defense against the Bears. Duckett is now in weekly competition with Sopoaga to see who will be on the active roster each game and mix into the defensive line rotation.

CB Donald Strickland: The fourth-year veteran signed with the 49ers on Tuesday. Strickland was originally a third-round draft pick by Indianapolis in 2003 out of Colorado. A native of San Francisco, Strickland started 12 games for the Colts from 2003-04 before being waived midway through the 2005 campaign. He was signed by Philadelphia last November and played in three games for Philadelphia. During his three NFL seasons, Strickland has started 12 of 19 games and three postseason games. He has totaled 54 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He is not expected to be active this week against Minnesota but could be worked quickly into the secondary rotation at safety once he learns the team's coverage schemes.

CB B.J. Tucker: The second-year veteran was waived by the 49ers on Tuesday to make room for Strickland on the roster, but was signed back to the team's practice squad on Wednesday.

LB Renauld Williams: The third-year veteran was signed back to the 49ers' practice squad earlier this week. Williams spent part of last season on the practice squad and the active roster of the 49ers, seeing action in two games. He was in training camp this past season with San Francisco but was waived prior to the start of the regular season.

QB Alex Smith: The second-year quarterback has completed 125 of 209 passing attempts for 1,431 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Last season, he was sacked 29 times while attempting 165 passes, this season he has been dumped 15 times. Smith has a 98.3 passer rating with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions in four home games this season, after recording a 34.8 rating with one touchdown and eight picks in three home starts last season. Smith saw his season total of interceptions rise to six earlier this week even though he hasn't played since the Bears' game. The NFL officially changed a ruling of a fumble by receiver Antonio Bryant to an interception from the game Sunday at Chicago. Smith's passer rating dropped from 84.8 to 82.8 because of the change.

RB Frank Gore: After rushing for 111 yards on just 12 carries against the Bears, Gore ranks third in the NFC and fifth in the NFL in rushing with 631 yards. The second-year veteran already has surpassed his team-high rushing total of last season (608 yards). Gore's 5.1 average per carry leads all NFL backs that have more than 97 carries. Gore has fumbled five times, four of which have been lost. He also leads the 49ers with 26 receptions for 211 yards.

KR Maurice Hicks:> The third-year veteran has a 24.5 return average on 33 kickoffs, but he fumbled for the second time this season early in the loss to the Bears. Hicks also sustained a concussion later in the game and his listed as questionable for this week's game against the Vikings. He did not practice either Wednesday or Thursday.

TE Eric Johnson: The sixth-year veteran played all 46 snaps in the 49ers' 41-10 loss to the Bears. Johnson has gone off the field for just one offensive play in the 49ers' past three games, seeing action on 155 of 156 snaps during that time. Johnson ranks fourth on the team with 20 receptions 195 yards and one touchdown.

WR/PR Brandon Williams: The rookie had a career-best 21-yard punt return against the Bears, increasing his average to a respectable 8.5 per punt return. Williams, the team's fourth receiver, has played just one offensive snap and has yet to have a pass thrown his way.

OL Adam Snyder: The versatile second-year player is expected to rotate onto the field and share time with starting RT Kwame Harris, who has experienced his share of problems. Snyder played 13 snaps Sunday against the Bears. He played only two series, including the 49ers' only touchdown drive. Snyder is expected to eventually take Harris' starting job.

RB Michael Robinson: The rookie is not getting much action, but he is clearly the team's No. 2 running back. Robinson has 25 carries this season for just 60 yards, while Maurice Hicks has two rushes for seven yards.

FB Moran Norris: The sixth-year veteran started his fifth consecutive game last Sunday, as he has supplanted Chris Hetherington as the team's primary fullback. Norris has not carried the ball. He has three receptions for 2 yards, including a touchdown, and has a very effective lead blocker for Frank Gore.

WR Antonio Bryant: The fifth-year veteran leads the team in receiving yards with 459 on 25 receptions. He caught his second TD pass of the season on Sunday against the Bears, but also lost a fumble in that game. He originally was credited with a team-high five receptions for 58 yards, but had one reception taken away earlier this week when his fumble later was ruled to be an interception instead of a catch.

WR Arnaz Battle: The fourth-year veteran has been healthy this season and he is turning into a competent No. 2 receiver with 24 receptions for 265 yards. He is tied with Antonio Bryant for the team lead with two TD receptions.

WR Bryan Gilmore: The team's No. 3 receiver has not been much of a factor in the passing game with just six receptions for 129 yards. He was the target of three pass attempts last Sunday but did not catch a pass. He has also rushed three times for 53 yards.

TE Vernon Davis: The rookie is expected to miss one more game with a fractured right fibula. Davis is working out on the side with team trainers and his most likely return date is Nov. 12 against the Lions in Detroit. Davis had five catches for 37 yards this season, all of which came in the season opener at the Cardinals before his injury.

LG Larry Allen: The 13th-year veteran returned to the starting lineup against the Bears for the first time since sustaining a left knee injury on the sixth play of the season. Allen played well in the run game, but lacked movement in pass protection.

K Joe Nedney: The ninth-year veteran made a routine 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to get San Francisco on the scoreboard against the Bears. After making 26 of 28 field-goal attempts last season, Nedney has made 9 of 13 this season. He has missed field-goal attempts of 34, 46, 51 and 49 yards.

LB Brandon Moore: The fifth-year veteran combined on a sack with Anthony Adams last Sunday to move into a tie for second among the team's sack leaders with 2.5. Moore and safety Chad Williams each trail veteran defensive lineman Bryant Young by half a sack. Moore also had one pass defensed against the Bears and is tied for ninth on the team with 24 tackles.

Niners Digest Top Stories