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SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Delanie Walker had the wires removed from his jaw on Monday, and he's been outfitted with a bigger facemask and a helmet that provides more protection for his jaw.Walker has been out since sustaining a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks. He said the left side of the jaw, which sustained two fractures, is now as strong as the other side.
He was cleared for limited 49ers practice on Wednesday, a clear indication that he is expected to be available for Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants on Sunday at Candlestick Park."I got to do a little running around with the helmet on," Walker said. "It felt great. I was excited how I felt yesterday (Wednesday), so we'll see how that goes."He spoke to reporters on Thursday in front of his locker:Do you have any protective gear for the jaw?
Walker: "I went with a different helmet -- a Revolution helmet. It's a little wider on the jaw area with a bigger facemask. And just trying that out, a little bigger helmet. We'll see how that goes."REWIND: Delanie Walker returns to practice
What have they told about re-injuring the jaw?
Walker: "It's as strong the other side of my face. It's a low chance of me re-breaking it in the same place. But it's possible it could happen. This is football, and they warned me of that. I feel confident in myself, and the doctors feel confident in me that they'll let me go out there with a helmet and do a little bit. So I'm confident I can do whatever I can and get out there."How frequently are you meeting with doctors and training staff to discuss the prospects of playing this week?
Walker: "Yesterday, the doctors were here to see how I felt after I did a little bit of stuff. And we talked about it. So I think it's going to be an every-day process of me talking to them."How is your body physically after a jaw injury?
Walker: "It's actually in good shape. I got to run around and do a little bit. I wasn't fatigued. My body felt good today. But we have some good strength coaches who kept me in shape, running around, lifting weights, and preparing me for the time I do get to come back."Can you eat what you need to for fuel?
Walker: "Now, I can eat a little more, so I've been eating well and getting protein that I need."How hard is it been to watch?
Walker: "Hard. That's why I'm trying to get back out there and do whatever I got to do to be able to play. It's real hard to play the whole season and not be able to play in the postseason."REWIND: Optimism over Delanie Walker's return for 49ers-Giants
What's the thing you missed eating the most?
Walker: "(Laughing) Hamburgers."Is your weight back to where it was before?
Walker: "It's getting there. I'm close to being the same size I was -- just a few pounds off."Was there rust when you got back on the field?
Walker: "Really, I didn't do too much. I don't want to say I was rusty. I felt like I was good. Everybody said I was faster and I looked like I was hyper. You get back on the field and you want to go full speed."You Tweeted earlier this week you expect to play, is that still your . . .
Walker: "That's my mindset. It's all up to the doctors and the coaches, at the end of the day."Were the wires removed on Monday?
Walker: "Yes, they were."Will you do any extra work with Alex (Smith) just to get back into the rhythm with him?
Walker: "We'll have to see because I'm limited to practice. But I've been on the Juggs (machine) to make sure I get my hands back. I've been running routes on my own. They see that. If I get back out there, I can still be on the same page with Alex."You had the black, no-contact shirt on at the beginning of practice. Then you took it off. Are you ready for contact?
Walker: "I felt like I didn't need it. I took it off. I didn't want to be labeled as not being touched. For me to really know if I can play, I got to do some contact."