Thursday night 49ers

Thursday evening update on the San Francisco 49ers.

 Although this is linebacker Jamie Winborn's third season with the 49ers, Sunday's game will mark just the second time that he has played against the Rams.
   And that's significant because Winborn was selected in the second round of the 2001 draft, in part, for how he might match up against the 49ers' NFC West division rival.
   "You draft a guy like Jamie Winborn, yeah, because you're playing in the same division with Marshall Faulk," 49ers defensive coordinator Jim Mora said. "You draft a guy like Jamie Winborn because he's got speed that can possibly match up with Marshall at times."
   Winborn is the 49ers' No. 4 linebacker but he is also a key figure for the team's unit. In the opener last week against the Chicago Bears, he played six different defensive positions, Mora said. Winborn played two linebacker positions and both safety spots, while also lining up at defensive end and cornerback.
   Although he figures to matched up man-to-man on occasion against Faulk, he is not obsessing about facing one of the league's best players.
   "If it comes with me playing him man-to-man for an entire game, I'm fine with it," Winborn said. "If (playing zone) on him, I'm fine with that. I want to do the best things for the team. It's not Make-Jamie-Winborn-look-good-against-Faulk Day."
   Winborn said Faulk did not catch any passes out of the backfield when he was matched up on him Dec. 9, 2001, the only time Winborn has played against the Rams. Faulk caught five passes for 19 yards in that game. Injuries sidelined Winborn for 15 games in his first two seasons.
   "He's a great running back and he can do it all but I'm not at all intimidated," Winborn said. "I got a lot of respect for the guy, but I'm a professional and I got to play my game.
   "I don't care about him being Marshall Faulk or any of that. I wouldn't care if he was O.J. Simpson. I'm going to go out and play my same technique and be just as aggressive as if I was playing a kindergartener."
   --LT Derrick Deese (right ankle) did not return to practice Thursday as anticipated but coach Dennis Erickson said Deese will practice Friday and be ready to start Sunday against the Rams.
   --RT Scott Gragg returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a high left ankle sprain on Aug. 14. Coach Dennis Erickson placed Gragg's chances of playing Sunday against the Rams at 50-50. Erickson said it will almost assuredly be a game-time decision.
   --CB Rashad Holman, who was originally expected to be out three weeks with a right groin strain, actually has a chance to play Sunday against the Rams. Holman's injury was not as bad as Erickson was initially told. He might try to get in some work at practice Friday.
   --RB Kevan Barlow felt some discomfort in his right hamstring but practiced Thursday at half speed. Barlow is expected to share action with Garrison Hearst, as usual.
   --QB Jeff Garcia has struggled on the Rams' home field. Garcia, who enters the game with a lifetime passer rating of 89.8, has a 43.6 rating in four games on the road against the Rams. He has completed just 41.7 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
   --RS/WR Arland Bruce will retain his job as the team's primary return man for at least another week, coach Dennis Erickson said. Bruce struggled in the season opener, fumbling once, briefly dropping another punt and bobbling a third. He keeps his job over Jimmy Williams, who led the NFL with a 16.8 punt-return average a year ago.
   --RS/CB Jimmy Williams will not start the game as the team's punt-returner. Williams, who is nursing a quadriceps bruise, is scheduled to be the team's No. 3 cornerback with Holman expected to be out of action.


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