Playoff prep: Niners' D has ups & downs

The Packers know the Niners' have a potent offense. San Francisco's defense, however, has been an enigma. One minute they're producing a plethora of turnovers and a team record 3 shutouts, the next minute they're giving up chunks of yardage to the likes of Dallas. Which Niner defense will show up at Lambeau Field Sunday? <p>

San Francisco's defensive injuries make a list long enough to rival even that of the Packers.

Defensive end John Engelberger suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday's 38-0 victory over the Saints and probably won't be able to play. Defensive end Chike Okeafor is only half-way into his four-to-six week recovery after breaking a bone in his leg. Menson Holloway was placed on injured reserve and will undergo shoulder surgery. That leaves SF with just two healthy defensive ends: Andre Carter and Bobby Setzer.

Engelberger and Okeafor were listed as questionable, but the team's deep concern showed through when San Francisco signed veteran DE Troy Wilson Tuesday.

Wilson was originally selected by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 1993 NFL draft, He played in 10 games as a rookie and finished with 5 ½ sacks. In 1994 he played in 11 games with San Francisco and recorded two sacks before being released by the team in August 1995.

Wilson had the best statistical year of his career in 1999 as a member of the New Orleans Saints. He played in all 16 games that season and finished with a career-high 5 ½ sacks. His professional totals include 61 games played and 15 ½ sacks.

Both San Francisco and Green Bay know that Brett Favre is the make-or-break factor here, and the Niners will throw everything and the kitchen sink at the Packers' o-line. Do the 49ers have the depth left to do it?

"We'll figure out a way," defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr. said. "It's early in the process, so we'll figure out something."

"Hopefully, whoever they can bring in can help us out," defensive tackle Bryant Young said. "We will make some adjustments next week. We have to have the guy on the other side of the field get some pressure on Brett."

The Packers won't let the 49ers' woes fool them. There's a reason that the Niners have shut out three opponents including a 38-0 shellacking of the Saints in the regular-season finale. Rookie defensive end Andre Carter is a force to reckon with. In the past six games Carter tallied 17 tackles, 4½ sacks, six tackles for a loss and 11 pressures. Larry Beightol will have to craft a plan like the one he used to stop Michael Strahan, and the offense line will have to shed their erratic tendencies and produce a performance just like their Meadowlands masterpiece.

The other concern is at cornerback. Ahmed Plummer missed Sunday's victory over the Saints with a hip injury. He is likely to play Sunday.


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