SANTA CLARA Cornerback Carlos Rogers of the 49ers has spent the past year and a half trying to keep pace with water bug-quick slot receivers, and there's another one maybe? probably? coming into town Sunday.
Danny Amendola hasn't played since suffering a collarbone injury Oct. 4, and his return this weekend would be a critical boost to the St. Louis Rams' offense.
He practiced on a limited basis this week and is listed as questionable.
The Rams lost all three games Amendola missed. That's probably not a coincidence. He still leads the team in catches (32) and receiving yards (395), and is tied for the lead in touchdowns (two) despite accumulating no statistics since Week 5.
"In a series, if they have to drive 14 (plays), they're going to throw him the ball at least seven times on the drive," Rogers said. "He's their main target. They have a lot of deep threats, fast guys, but anytime he's on the field, anytime he's moving, we think they're trying to give him the ball."
Rogers compared Amendola to the Giants' Victor Cruz, who has given Rogers and the 49ers' defense fits in recent years.
Said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio of the comparison: "I think Carlos is just kind of referring to, this guy's a damn good slot. And this guy is. He's one of the top slots in the league."
Fangio said good slot receivers have to be quick and tough. They also have to be smart because the position has so many options on any given play. If the receiver is on the same page as the quarterback, the wideout will become a reliable target, and that's certainly the case with Amendola and quarterback Sam Bradford.
The 49ers didn't face either player last season.
Amendola missed most of the season with a dislocated elbow. Bradford also was injured for the two meetings. The 49ers played against A.J. Feeley in a 26-0 Week 13 win. Kellen Clemens and Tom Brandstater were the St. Louis quarterbacks in the season finale, a 37-24 win for the 49ers.
For Fangio and a handful of players including Rogers, safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Aldon Smith Sunday's game will be the first time they've played against Bradford as 49ers.
Bradford and Amendola connected 15 times for 104 yards and one touchdown in the two games against the 49ers when Bradford was a rookie in 2010. The teams split the series that season.
"I think he's got pretty good command of their offense for it being his first year in it," Fangio said of Bradford. "He's got deceiving speed. When he does decide to pull it down and run, he can run. I just think he's a pretty polished quarterback. Although he's been hurt and been through a couple systems there, I think he's doing well for where he's at in his development."
Et cetera The 49ers hosted four-star Gen. Robert W. Cone during Friday's practice. Cone has served in Afghanistan and Iraq and is currently the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh would not say whether running back Brandon Jacobs, a healthy scratch the past four weeks, would play against the Rams. "We'll see," Harbaugh said. "We don't really talk about who's going to dress, what their roles are going to be from week to week."
Nine 49ers including running back Frank Gore (hand), linebacker Patrick Willis (shoulder) and wide receiver Michael Crabtree (illness) are listed as probable for Sunday's game. All practiced in full this week.