SANTA CLARA Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on Thursday said the plan this week is to monitor Glenn Dorsey's sore hamstring and determine whether the 49ers nose tackle is healthy enough to play Sunday.
If not, the 49ers will elevate a rookie or possibly two to the active roster.
Fangio got his first extended look at one of those rookies, Quinton Dial, who went through his first full practice Wednesday.
"He did fine," Fangio said. "Thought he was moving around well, mixed in, was pretty good on his assignments and overall was pleased with the way he practiced."
Another option and perhaps more realistic is activating undrafted rookie Mike Purcell (Wyoming), who spent the offseason with the 49ers and currently is on their practice squad. Fangio said Purcell was more ready than Dial and rookie defensive end Tank Carradine, who also joined practice just this week.
"He had all of (the) OTAs; he had all of training camp," Fangio said. "Mike's able to go in there and battle in the trenches for us. He can play nose or he can play end for us. So he's versatile. He's experienced when you compare him to Quinton and Tank. So he's ready to go if needed."
Fangio agreed that an ideal scenario would be to allow the untested rookies to practice through the team's Nov. 3 bye before putting them into a game.
But with Dorsey ailing and defensive end Ray McDonald adjusting to a torn biceps tendon, the 49ers might have to accelerate the learning curve.
"We're not in a perfect world right now as far as the depth of our defensive line," Fangio said. "So we've got to do what we've got to do."
Dorsey missed his second consecutive practice Thursday. If he can't play, Tony Jerod-Eddie would start and one of the rookies would back him up.
The 49ers cleared roster space by waiving wide receiver Chris Harper, whom they signed off Seattle's practice squad last month. The hope at the time was that Harper, a receiver at Kansas State, could fill the quasi tight-end role Delanie Walker served in previous seasons.
That transaction clears space for a defensive lineman. Any additional roster moves would have to be done by Saturday afternoon.
Garza is remembered Like the rest of the 49ers, Fangio said he was "shocked and devastated" at the news that team doctor Daniel Garza, an orthopedic surgeon at Stanford Hospital, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday at age 43.
"He was a friend of everybody in this organization and had time for everybody," Fangio said. "And I know I needed him for a couple of things off the field. One time I was away on vacation and came down sick and called him up. It was like I was right there. He was a tremendous individual and a tremendous doctor and somebody who we're going to really miss."
Linebacker Patrick Willis said he's known Garza since Willis joined the 49ers in 2007.
"He's always been an amazing guy to me, to my family," Willis said. "And we're going to miss him."
Injuries Defensive ends Justin Smith (shoulder) and McDonald practiced on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday.
Dorsey, wide receiver Jon Baldwin (illness) and linebacker Ahmad Brooks were the three 49ers who didn't practice. The team said Brooks' absence was not injury-related.
Read Matthew Barrows' blogs at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.