Hurting 49ers place Strickland, Davis on IR

The 49ers got substantially thinner in their already shaky secondary Tuesday when the team placed cornerbacks Donald Strickland and Sammy Davis on injured reserve, ending their 2006 seasons after both players were hurt in last week's loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Strickland, who joined the team in early November, started the past three games at left cornerback in place of injured regular Shawntae Spencer, who remains questionable to return for Thursday's game against the Seattle Seahawks due to an ankle sprain.

Davis started one game at right cornerback this season and has seen extensive playing time in secondary coverage packages. He has an injured quadriceps, and Strickland has a knee injury.

Davis finished his first season with the 49ers with 29 tackles, and he's currently second on the team with eight passes defensed. Strickland had six tackles in his short time with the team.

To replace Strickland and Davis on the 53-man roster, the 49ers signed cornerback B.J. Tucker and linebacker Renauld Williams from their practice squad. Those two players were not immediately replaced on the practice squad.

With Spencer out, Strickland and Davis had moved up to second and third in the team's pecking order at cornerback. The 49ers are hoping Spencer can return to the lineup against the Seahawks, because on its depth chart as of today, San Francisco doesn't have any cornerbacks listed behind starters Spencer and Walt Harris.

If Spencer can't play, the 49ers may turn to rookie Marcus Hudson, who also has been tried at safety this season, or Tucker, who started in Week 6 against San Diego when the 49ers began the game with five defensive backs on the field. Tucker was released two weeks later to make room on the 53-man roster for Strickland, then signed back to the practice squad after clearing waivers.

The 49ers also could put former starting free safety Mike Adams at cornerback, where he has started previously in his career. The Niners appear to be counting on a return by Spencer, who practiced with the team Tuesday.

"He went through the whole deal," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "We'll see how he feels after the full practice, see how he is in the morning. He may be upgraded to probable (Wednesday)."

The 49ers will be scrambling for healthy bodies in their coverage sub-packages against the strong passing game of the Seahawks, and Tucker could step from the practice squad into the key role of nickel back in the space of a few days.

"He will be in a rotation, but (the Seahawks) use a lot of personnel groups," Nolan said. "We could be in anything from base, to four DBs, or five and six, based on who they have in the game."

The Seahawks will have Pro Bowl starter Matt Hasselbeck back at quarterback. Hasselbeck missed San Francisco's 20-14 upset of the Seahawks on Nov. 19, when he was in the final week of his recovery from a knee sprain. He returned to the starting lineup the next week against Green Bay.

"Naturally, the quarterback is the biggest difference," Nolan said. "Matt Hasselbeck is an outstanding player. I think he was just about ready to play us last time, although they made the decision to go with the other fellah (Seneca Wallace). That'll be the biggest difference. I know they have a change at the wide receiver position, whether (Bobby) Engram gets a chance to play, I know (Darrell) Jackson is out. It's a lot of the same people that played in the Super Bowl year. They have some very good players. We've got our work cut out for us just like we did last time."

The 49ers also will be without guard/tackle Adam Snyder (ankle/knee) on Thursday, though linebacker Derek Smith (hamstring) and tight end Eric Johnson (knee) could be available against the Seahawks. Snyder, Smith and Johnson all missed last week's game against Green Bay, as did defensive tackle Anthony Adams (knee).

Smith and Johnson were listed as questionable to play this week, but neither participated in practice Tuesday. Adams practiced at full strength Tuesday and is listed as probable against the Seahawks.

Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich was not originally on the injury report following the Green Bay game, but he has a sprained foot and is questionable for Thursday's game. Despite the injury, he was able to go through practice Tuesday in its entirety. Left tackle Jonas Jennings (ankle) didn't practice Tuesday to rest his injury, but he's probable to start against the Seahawks.

Nolan said Smith and Johnson may return to practice Wednesday. Whether they'll play or not Thursday, Nolan said, "The guys that will be on the field will be fully capable and ready to go."

The 49ers will conduct a 90-minute practice early Wednesday before departing for their charter flight to Seattle, where Thursday's 5 p.m. game will be broadcast on the NFL Network.

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