SANTA CLARA -- 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is demonstrating that his team's success is blind to the names on his players' jerseys. The 49ers have two wins without the man they expected to anchor their return game, and without the man acquired to ensure third-and-short conversions.San Francisco is beating the NFL's best, bereft of their depth chart champions.Ted Ginn and Brandon Jacobs are still inactive, but their replacements have stepped up in such a major way that head coach Jim Harbaugh is having reservations about plugging in his veterans when they're healthy.
Ted Ginn and Brandon Jacobs are yet to be active, but their replacements have stepped up in such a major way, that head coach Jim Harbaugh is having reservations about plugging in his veterans when they're healthy.
MAIOCCO: Roles for Ginn, Jacobs
Ginn and Jacobs were in the locker room on Tuesday, and they looked healthy. While Jacobs and his knee are less than likely to be ready by Sunday, Ginn's ankle is progressing.
"It's better." Ginn said. "I'm taking it day by day."
Asked if it was realistic to hope he'll play in the team's Week 3 assignment in Minnesota, Ginn responded, "I hope so."
Kyle Williams has handled the lion's share of the return duties in Ginn's stead, and he has handled them admirably. Williams safely returned one punt Sunday for eight yards, and handled one kickoff. His only Week 1 punt return went for 20 yards and set up David Akers' record-tying 63-yard field goal at halftime.
While a contingent of the 49ers fan base did not want to see Williams back deep after his performance in the 2011 NFC Championship, neither Harbaugh nor Williams have let it affect their plans or preparations.
It is unclear how the responsibility will be handled after Ginn's return.
Behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, going for 64 yards on 14 rushes. Without a third-down bruiser like Jacobs, the 49ers have converted six of 20 third downs so far.
"We're going to play the guys you feel each week that give us the best chance to win and are practicing better and who ultimately are going to play better in the game," Harbaugh said, "You also need to see that on the practice field."
Ginn and Jacobs have not been seen practicing, and Harbaugh is enamored with the idea that his opponents know as much as the rest of us with regard to who will be on the field Sunday.
"There are a lot of possibilities there," Harbaugh said. "And you like to have your opponent think about all those possibilities."