Before the 49ers and Bears meet Sunday, they are engaging in a different kind of competition: most unsettled position.
For the 49ers, it’s cornerback. The team lost both starters, Chris Culliver and Tramaine Brock, in the first quarter Sunday against the Cowboys and both are listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.
Brock, who is dealing with a sprained big toe, did not practice at all this week and is unlikely to play against Chicago. Culliver suffered a concussion and a shoulder stinger. He must pass one final post-concussion test today in order to play on Sunday night.
“Right on schedule,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Culliver and the league-mandated protocol he must take. “Should be good to go.”
For the Bears, the problem is wide receiver.
Only one of the receivers on the active roster, Santonio Holmes, practiced during the week. Chicago’s top two players at the position, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, are listed as questionable on the injury report.
Another option, one-time 49er Josh Morgan, re-injured his groin during the week and is listed as doubtful.
Perrish Cox likely would make his first start at cornerback since the 2010 season when he was with Denver if, as expected, Brock doesn’t play. Should Culliver miss the game, too, Chris Cook or rookie Dontae Johnson would step in at the other starting spot.
In addition, tackle Anthony Davis did not practice this week, making it likely that Jonathan Martin will make his second straight start at right tackle.
Investigators still are gathering information and have not passed the case to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to file charges against McDonald, the 49ers’ starting left defensive end.
The delay in the case is not unusual for one in which multiple witnesses must be interviewed. The incident occurred during a birthday party for McDonald that was attended by perhaps half the 49ers team. McDonald is expected to start Sunday’s game.
The 49ers, meanwhile, have said they will not tolerate a domestic abuser on the team but they would not act until there are facts and evidence indicating guilt and have repeatedly said they will allow “due process” to play out.
McDonald was late for practice two days last week while dealing with the investigation. He has been on hand for the full practice every day this week.
“I think his focus and preparation has been good in light of everything that he’s been through here the last two weeks,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He’s obviously had some things he’s had to deal with. He’s been late for a couple meetings because he’s had to deal with some things. You guys saw last week he was late for a practice or two because he had to talk to people. But I think he’s handled it extremely well in light of the firestorm that’s out there.”