There's a very good chance that Nate Clements will do something he's never done in his life - miss a football game. Clements revealed today that he had surgery on Tuesday to insert a pin and two screws into the base of his
left right thumb, which he fractured Sunday in Buffalo while tackling running back Marshawn Lynch. The 49ers' top cornerback didn't practice at all this week and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Jets. As of now, he's got a bulky, hard cast covering his hand.
Whether Clements plays against Brett Favre and the Jets, coach Mike Singletary said, depends on whether the team doctors give him a green light. Clements said he could play with a hard cast over the thumb. But he said a cast doesn't guarantee full protection, especially considering how aggressively he plays the game. If Clements can't play, it will be the first game he's missed since entering the league in 2001. He couldn't recall missing any games in high school or college, either.
Donald Strickland likely would start at cornerback in Clements' absence, which would allow Tarell Brown to continue his role as the team's nickel cornerback. Punt returner is a little trickier. Allen Rossum (ankle) didn't practice this week and is listed as doubtful. The hope is that Arnaz Battle, who went through a full practice Thursday and Friday, is healthy enough to handle the job Sunday. "So far, so good," Singletary said of Battle, who has been out since Week 10.
In other injury news, Dashon Goldson (knee) and Josh Morgan (groin) also went through a full practice. Both will be listed as probable, as will Battle.
-- Matt Barrows