Walker: It's as strong as the other side of my face


Walker: It's as strong as the other side of my face

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Get the latest news on the 49ers tonight on SportsNet Central at 6 and 10:30 p.m., along with a replay of today's 49ers press conference at 9:30.

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Delanie Walker had the wires removed from his jaw on Monday, and he's been outfitted with a bigger facemask and a helmet that provides more protection for his jaw.Walker has been out since sustaining a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks. He said the left side of the jaw, which sustained two fractures, is now as strong as the other side.
He was cleared for limited 49ers practice on Wednesday, a clear indication that he is expected to be available for Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants on Sunday at Candlestick Park."I got to do a little running around with the helmet on," Walker said. "It felt great. I was excited how I felt yesterday (Wednesday), so we'll see how that goes."He spoke to reporters on Thursday in front of his locker:Do you have any protective gear for the jaw?
Walker: "I went with a different helmet -- a Revolution helmet. It's a little wider on the jaw area with a bigger facemask. And just trying that out, a little bigger helmet. We'll see how that goes."REWIND: Delanie Walker returns to practice
What have they told about re-injuring the jaw?
Walker: "It's as strong the other side of my face. It's a low chance of me re-breaking it in the same place. But it's possible it could happen. This is football, and they warned me of that. I feel confident in myself, and the doctors feel confident in me that they'll let me go out there with a helmet and do a little bit. So I'm confident I can do whatever I can and get out there."How frequently are you meeting with doctors and training staff to discuss the prospects of playing this week?
Walker: "Yesterday, the doctors were here to see how I felt after I did a little bit of stuff. And we talked about it. So I think it's going to be an every-day process of me talking to them."How is your body physically after a jaw injury?
Walker: "It's actually in good shape. I got to run around and do a little bit. I wasn't fatigued. My body felt good today. But we have some good strength coaches who kept me in shape, running around, lifting weights, and preparing me for the time I do get to come back."Can you eat what you need to for fuel?
Walker: "Now, I can eat a little more, so I've been eating well and getting protein that I need."How hard is it been to watch?
Walker: "Hard. That's why I'm trying to get back out there and do whatever I got to do to be able to play. It's real hard to play the whole season and not be able to play in the postseason."REWIND: Optimism over Delanie Walker's return for 49ers-Giants
What's the thing you missed eating the most?
Walker: "(Laughing) Hamburgers."Is your weight back to where it was before?
Walker: "It's getting there. I'm close to being the same size I was -- just a few pounds off."Was there rust when you got back on the field?
Walker: "Really, I didn't do too much. I don't want to say I was rusty. I felt like I was good. Everybody said I was faster and I looked like I was hyper. You get back on the field and you want to go full speed."You Tweeted earlier this week you expect to play, is that still your . . .
Walker: "That's my mindset. It's all up to the doctors and the coaches, at the end of the day."Were the wires removed on Monday?
Walker: "Yes, they were."Will you do any extra work with Alex (Smith) just to get back into the rhythm with him?
Walker: "We'll have to see because I'm limited to practice. But I've been on the Juggs (machine) to make sure I get my hands back. I've been running routes on my own. They see that. If I get back out there, I can still be on the same page with Alex."You had the black, no-contact shirt on at the beginning of practice. Then you took it off. Are you ready for contact?
Walker: "I felt like I didn't need it. I took it off. I didn't want to be labeled as not being touched. For me to really know if I can play, I got to do some contact."

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles


49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4