Optimism over Walker's return for 49ers-Giants

January 18, 2012, 8:16 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Delanie Walker suggested several days ago that he could play for the first time since suffering two fractures in his jaw in the second-to-last game of the season against Seattle.

Walker posted the following on his Twitter account @Dwalk46 last Sunday.

"Just got a lil workout in I'm so ready to pad up on Sun"

Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco's coach, responded with was cautious optimism.

"That would be our hope, too" Harbaugh said in his Wednesday press conference. "We'll have to wait and see. Today would be his first practice and we'll see how he responds to today's work, to today's treatment. We'll know more tomorrow and more the next day and ultimately it will be in the doctor's hands."

Harbaugh pointed out what the Giants and 49ers already know -- that Walker's presence on the field presents matchup problems for defenses, and creates opportunity in the passing game for other players. Walker led all San Francisco receivers with six catches for 69 yards in the first meeting between the teams, a 27-20 49ers win in November.

"We'd much prefer to have Delanie out there," Harbaugh said. "He is a great football player, first and foremost. He is smart, physical, intelligent, play-making ability. That's not to say that the next guy that steps up doesn't have some of those same qualities -- certainly Justin Peelle has filled that role very well."

Walker had three TD receptions this season and is a key component of San Francisco's offense. The most memorable was his short score to defeat the unbeaten Lions in November.

With under two minutes remaining, quarterback Alex Smith hit Walker on a quick slant and Walker hauled safety Louis Delmas the final yards into the end zone.

Will he have a chance Sunday to make another game-saving play against the Giants?

We'll see how he comes back tomorrow after running around out there and then the doctors will make that decision," Harbaugh said.

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