Injury report: Justin Smith returns for late-game contribution


Injury report: Justin Smith returns for late-game contribution

ST. LOUIS -- Defensive lineman Justin Smith aggravated a left knee injury Sunday, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh thought his day was over.But when the 49ers needed the defense to step up, Smith stepped out on the field without seeking approval from the team's coaches, Harbaugh said."I thought he was out of the game in the first quarter," Harbaugh said. "He comes back in at the end of the game and takes it over when we had to have them stopped."The 49ers wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs with their 34-27 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. And with a first-round bye, the 49ers will get some much-needed rest before their first playoff game on the weekend of Jan. 14-15.RECAP: 49ers clinch first-round bye with 34-27 win over Rams
The 49ers had to hold off the Rams, who scored 14 points in a 13-second span late in the fourth quarter. Smith went back on the field for a crucial sequence in which the 49ers' defense held.Smith is not the only Pro Bowl-bound 49ers player who saw limited playing time Sunday. Running back Frank Gore carried just seven times for 9 yards. The 49ers managed to win the game without their top back touching the ball for the final 35 minutes of the game."It's big," Gore said. "We get our bodies all fresh as a team."Harbaugh indicated that Gore was held out of action due to an unspecified injury. But Gore said nothing physically prevented him from playing. Gore played in all 16 games for the 49ers this season. He led the team with 1,211 yards on 282 rushing attempts."I'm good. I'm cool," Gore said. "He (Harbaugh) said I was good. We were up."The 49ers should be at full strength for their first playoff game, with the possible exception of tight end Delanie Walker, who sustained a fractured jaw Dec. 24 against the Seattle Seahawks.Wide receiver Kyle Williams sat out Sunday's game with a concussion. He said he will be cleared to play in the playoffs. He said he has been symptom-free for a couple days."It (medical clearance) will definitely happen before we play next," Williams said. "I'll definitely be back for the next game."Wide receiver Ted Ginn (left ankle) missed his second game. He has been running, and is expected to be ready for the 49ers' playoff opener, as well.Fullback Bruce Miller, who has been limited in practice due to a left knee injury, aggravated his injury in the first quarter. He returned to action late in Sunday's game.

Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely


Armstead to undergo surgery on broken hand, out indefinitely

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will be out indefinitely with a broken hand, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday.

“He’s going to need surgery, so it’s going to be some time,” Shanahan said of Armstead, the 49ers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft.

The 49ers will discuss placing Armstead of injured reserve, which would rule him out for at least eight weeks. The 49ers will also be without defensive end Aaron Lynch this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lynch is week-to-week with a calf strain.

“The more guys you lose, the less you like that depth,” Shanahan said. “Losing Arik, which could be some time. We’ll have to discuss IR. We have to do that over the next couple of days. We know we’re going to have Lynch out, too, for at least a week or most likely more. That takes away two guys who were helping.”

The 49ers might make a roster move to add a defensive lineman to their 53-man roster. The 49ers also expect outside linebacker/defensive end Dekoda Watson to return to action this week after missing two weeks with a groin strain.

Hoyer understands 49ers' move to Beathard, plans to stay ready just in case

Hoyer understands 49ers' move to Beathard, plans to stay ready just in case

The move to rookie C.J. Beathard as the 49ers’ starting quarterback is intended to be for the remainder of the season. But Brian Hoyer knows things can always change.

Hoyer, who played ineffectively after winning the starting job in the offseason, was benched on Sunday in the second quarter against Washington. The winless 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons, so he is familiar with rejection.

“I’ve been in this situation before and C.J. is a great kid, so I’ll be there every day trying to help him as much as I can,” Hoyer said.

“Also, the other thing is, you never know what’s going to happen – injuries and stuff like that. Obviously, you never wish that upon people but that’s what happened to me in Houston and I was right back in a few weeks later. So you’ve always got to stay ready and just be ready to do your job.”

Hoyer started for the Texans in Week 1 of 2015. Ryan Mallett took over in Week 2, but Hoyer returned to the starting lineup in Week 6.

Coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go with Beathard after Hoyer completed just four of his 11 pass attempts for 34 yards in four offensive possessions. The 49ers managed just two first downs (one by penalty) and 39 yards with Hoyer in the game.

“I can understand what Kyle did,” Hoyer said. “He tried to change some things up. I thought C.J. came in and gave those guys some life a little bit.

“It’s part of the job and, unfortunately, when you don’t play as well as you like, and your offense doesn’t play as well as you like, he’s forced to make that decision. I have the utmost respect for Kyle and I knew he was firm on his decision and I just went about trying to support C.J. as best I could.”

Beathard completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown – a 45-yard strike to Aldrick Robinson – and one interception on a desperation fourth-down attempt on the 49ers’ final offensive play of the game.

Beathard said he felt a lot of support from all of his teammates during the 49ers’ 26-24. The 49ers rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game in the third quarter.

“It was awesome,” said Beathard, a third-round draft pick from Iowa. “I think this team showed a lot of fight and battled hard until the end. But (we) just couldn’t get the job done. We are going to come back and get back to work on Monday and Tuesday. We have another one this week (at Levi’s Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys), so hopefully we can get a win.”