Carlos Rogers’ sore right hamstring has him in jeopardy of missing his first game since he joined the 49ers in 2011.
The veteran cornerback has started 53 games since then, but he sat out Wednesday’s practice while getting treatment on the hamstring, which he strained late in Sunday’s win over Arizona. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Rogers was sore Tuesday but had improved some by Wednesday.
Rogers has said he considers the injury to be minor, and he became animated when asked if he would rule himself out of Sunday’s playoff game at Green Bay.
“Hell no,” he said as he was leaving the facility Tuesday.
Still, hamstring injuries typically keep players out at least a week. If that’s the case for Rogers, the team’s most experienced cornerback, Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock would start, with Eric Wright entering in nickel situations.
The nickel cornerback figures to play extensively against the Packers and will often be matched against Randall Cobb, one of the stars from Green Bay’s win over Chicago on Sunday. Wright has faced Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice – with Cleveland in 2009 and with Detroit in 2011.
“He’s not like a bum off the street,” safety Donte Whitner said of Wright. “He was a guy that just scored a 30-plus-million-dollar contract from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he got into the off-the-field stuff. So he can actually play the game. Played a lot of nickel in Detroit. … He’s played Rodgers a few times. So he’s going to be OK. He’s looking forward to this opportunity to get back on the football field. So if Carlos can’t go, I think he’ll be all right.”
Rodgers said he thought Rogers would play. Asked about Wright, Rodgers said they were familiar with him from his stint with the Lions.
“We know him,” he said. “I think we’re expecting Carlos to be ready.”
Eye on Aaron – The winter weather and Packers running back Eddie Lacy’s rookie success have gotten a lot of press this week. But Patrick Willis isn’t taking his eye off the Packers’ No. 1 threat.
“The offense runs through Aaron Rodgers,” the 49ers linebacker said Wednesday. “He gets those guys lined up and throws the ball, and he throws it quick.”
The consensus among 49ers players is Rodgers looks like his old self after he missed seven games this season because of a collarbone injury.
During his absence, the Packers leaned on Lacy, and the rookie came through in that span by averaging 74 yards a game and scoring six of his 11 rushing touchdowns. Lacy finished the season with 1,178 yards, eighth most in the league.
But even if the temperature is in the single digits at kickoff, Willis thinks the Packers will let Rodgers decide their fate. Sunday in Chicago, for instance, there was a 16-mph wind and the wind chill was 14 degrees. Despite the conditions, Rodgers attempted 39 passes and finished with 318 yards. Lacy had a good day, carrying 21 times for 66 yards.
“He’s a dynamic quarterback,” Willis said. “He can run if he has to and he can most definitely sling the ball. Having a running game helps with the pass, but at the end of the day he’s going to throw that ball.”
Et cetera – Defensive lineman Justin Smith and center Jonathan Goodwin also missed the first practice of the week, a luxury they are afforded as two of the most veteran players on the team. In fact, Goodwin calls it a “Cowboy Day” after Smith’s locker room nickname.
• Packers coach Mike McCarthy reiterated outside linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) would not play Sunday.
• Asked how he prepares for the cold, Rodgers quipped, “Drink a lot of chicken noodle soup.”