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 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

CB Nate Clements: The seventh-year cornerback continued his strong start with the 49ers with a standout effort last week against the Rams, when he record six solo tackles, had one sack and forced a fumble in San Francisco's 17-16 victory. Clements made the play that turned the game in the 49ers' favor when he punched the ball out of St. Louis receiver Torry Holt's hands deep in San Francisco territory and the ball went through the end zone for a touchback, keeping the Rams from adding to their six-point lead and giving the ball to the 49ers to begin their go-ahead touchdown drive late in the third quarter. His performance was rewarded with the NFL's GMC Defensive Player of the Week honor. Clements was selected for the award from among five finalists by the 46,200 fans who voted this week on NFL.com. After the regular season, five players will be nominated for GMC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Fans can vote for the winner on NFL.com throughout the month of January. Clements' sack, the second of his career, almost didn't happen. After hearing the defensive call in the huddle, Clements was then reminded by safety Mark Roman that he was blitzing. "I'm not used to blitzing," said Clements, who dropped Rams quarterback Marc Bulger for an 11-yard loss.

DE Bryant Young: The sack that Young originally split with Manny Lawson on the first play of the game against St. Louis has been credited entirely to Young, giving him three sacks for the game and tying his single-game career high. Young now has four sacks in two games this season, which leads the NFL by half a sack over New England linebacker Mike Vrabel. Young had 5.5 sacks last season and didn't reach four until Week 11. Young also had sacks in each of his first two games of last season. Young now has posted three sacks in a game three times for his career – all against the Rams. He also had 3 sacks against St. Louis on September 11, 2005, in San Francisco, and October 6, 1996, in St. Louis. For his career, Young has 19.5 sacks against St. Louis, the most against any one team. Young now has 87 sacks for his career. Young looks fresh and energized this season as he has gotten off to a strong start. He also leads the team with seven quarterback hurries.

LB Manny Lawson: The second-year veteran tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a coverage drill in Wednesday's practice and will miss the remainder of the season. He will have surgery to repair the ligament sometime in the next two weeks, coach Mike Nolan said. "I heard a pop and I remember that was what C.J. Brewer had talked about when he did his, so I was nervous," Lawson said. "I tried to test it out but really I just had to wait on the MRI. I was really looking forward to doing big things this year for my team, but the hardest things is just knowing I won't be able to be out there practicing and playing in games with the guys. But, things happen for a reason and I will be back. I'm going to be here all the time (rehabilitating). (Team trainer) Jeff Ferguson even lives right across from me, so I already told him I might be a late-night visitor at his house pestering him to work extra with me."

WR Darrell Jackson: The eighth-year veteran left the Rams game with a "tweaked back," but coach Mike Nolan said he expects him to play Sunday against the Steelers. Jackson led the 49ers with 61 yards receiving on three catches against the Rams. Jackson didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday but is expected to return to practice Friday. He leads the team with 97 receiving yards through two games and is tied for with Arnaz Battle for the team lead in receptions with seven.

WR Ashley Lelie: After signing a two-year, $4.3 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason, Lelie has had a difficult time getting on the field. Lelie is the No. 4 receiver on the team, and he played just two offensive snaps on Sunday, bringing his total to three for the season.

LB Patrick Willis: The stud rookie continues to impress. He recorded a game-high eight tackles against the Rams on Sunday, and added a quarterback hurry and batted down a pass in the end zone. It was the second consecutive week to begin his career that Willis was the game's leading tackler. He now leads the 49ers with 25 tackles after two games and also has two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

FB Moran Norris: The seventh-year veteran played 29 offensive snaps as the 49ers went mostly with a two-back formation against the Rams. Although his main duty is as a lead-blocker for Frank Gore, Norris also picked up a first down on a third-and-one running play. He has carried the ball two times in two games this season after recording just two carries in 14 games last year. He also has two receptions after totaling five last season.

QB Alex Smith: The third-year veteran threw the ball accurately against the Rams, completing 11 of 17 passes, but the yardage has not been there. Smith has thrown for just 252 yards in two games. He hasn't thrown a touchdown or interception while completing 26 of his 48 throws.

QB Trent Dilfer: Now in his 14th season after having started for four other NFL teams, the backup behind Smith has not played a snap since joining the 49ers at the start of the 2006 season.

RB Frank Gore: After averaging a hefty 5.4 yards per carry last season, Gore has found it more difficult to churn out yards through two games. He has gained 136 yards on 38 carries for a 3.6-yard average. He has scored three of the team's four touchdowns, including a 43-yard scoring burst on fourth-and-1 that brought the 49ers back from behind in the third quarter last week.

RB Maurice Hicks: The team's second-string back behind Gore played just six snaps Sunday against the Rams. When he was on the field, it generally meant the ball was going to be in his hands. He carried twice for 10 yards and caught two passes for 21 yards.

RB Michael Robinson: The second-year pro has played just one snap from scrimmage and gained three yards on a running play. Robinson is generally used in third downs when starter Gore needs a break.

WR Arnaz Battle: The fifth-year veteran had two catches for 17 yards against the Rams. Battle has been on the field for all but three of the 49ers' offensive snaps this season. He is a well-rounded player who is also the best-blocking wideout on the 49ers' roster. He's tied for the team with seven receptions and is averaging 11 yards per catch.

WR Taylor Jacobs: After winning the job with an excellent training camp, Jacobs has not made an impact as the No. 3 receiver. In two games, he has yet to catch a pass and has been the target of just one pass, which he dropped.

TE Vernon Davis: The second-year player went into coach Mike Nolan's office on Monday and asked for more passes to come his way. Davis caught the only two passes thrown to him last week. He has not been the kind of weapon the 49ers had envisioned him becoming this season. Davis said he was open all day, but the ball rarely came his way.

C/G David Baas: The third-year veteran might be close to landing a starting job on the offensive line. Against the Rams, he played one series at right guard for starter Justin Smiley as a planned substitution. This week, he is seeing practice time at center, with Eric Heitmann hobbled with an ankle sprain.

PR Brandon Williams: The second-year player has his spot with the 49ers because of his sure hands, but he muffed a punt last week that led to the Rams' only touchdown. Williams has averaged 8.0 yards on four returns. He has made five fair catches.

P Andy Lee:The fourth-year veteran has gotten off to a strong start. He is averaging 43.7 yards a punt, with an impressive net average of 40.2 yards. He had a 71-yard punt Sunday against the Rams that included just a one-yard return by Dante Hall.

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