The much-anticipated NFL regular-season debut of running back Thomas Clayton might happen tomorrow.
Judging by the emails and comments section of this blog, Clayton might be the most popular player on the team after leading the 49ers in rushing yards each of the past two exhibition seasons. He was among the 49ers’ final cuts both years, but was immediately brought back to the practice squad.
Clayton has been promoted to the 53-man roster. He will be in uniform for tomorrow’s game with running back Frank Gore all but ruled out with an ankle sprain. It is uncertain how much – or even if – Clayton will play tomorrow. DeShaun Foster and Michael Robinson are ahead of Clayton on the 49ers’ depth chart.
To make room on the 53-man roster, the 49ers placed Arnaz Battle on injured reserve.
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This is it for the 49ers. This is really the final chance for the 49ers to leave a real impression.
Although the club has three games remaining, this is probably the only one in which the opposition will be motivated to bring its “A” game. The 49ers face the Dolphins, who are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East.
Next week, the 49ers face the Rams, who are again looking at a top-five draft pick. The 49ers wrap up the season Dec. 28 against the Redskins, who appear to be coming apart at the seams and will likely not have anything riding on the final game of the season.
By the way, that’s my fancy way of saying, “Don’t necessarily expect these matchups the final two Saturdays of the season when I could devote my time to other areas of my life.” (I can hear the cries now, “What? You have a life?”)
49ers running back DeShaun Foster vs. Dolphins strong safety Yeremiah Bell: Foster is likely to get the starting assignment with Frank Gore hobbled by an ankle sprain. Foster is averaging just 2.1 yards per carry on his 37 rushing attempts this season. That won’t be good enough against the Dolphins.
Center Eric Heitmann vs. nose tackle Jason Ferguson: Heitmann has gotten a lot of attention recently for his strong performances against the Cowboys’ Jay Ratliff and the Jets’ Kris Jenkins. Heitmann might actually be having the best season of any of the 49ers’ offensive players.
Free safety Mark Roman vs. wide receiver Ted Ginn: The Dolphins’ passing game just hasn’t been the same since Greg Camarillo was lost for the season due to an ACL tear. It’s amazing that the Dolphins have been able to function at all. (OK, in full disclosure, I had to write those two sentences. I was on the same flight today with
Right end Justin Smith vs. left tackle Jake Long: Smith has been as good as advertised this season, in his first season after coming to the club as a high-priced free agent. Long, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, is having a solid rookie season. He figures to be in the league for a long, long time. Smith is a relentless, snap-to-whistle player who will undoubtedly give Long all he can handle.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin vs. center Samson Satele: Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky seems to have
Outside linebacker Parys Haralson vs. right tackle
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