Carlos Rogers is apparently read to suit back up for the San Francisco 49ers. The cornerback told KNBR 680 in San Francisco "I'm playing" when asked about his status for the NFC Championship game this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Rogers has missed both of the 49ers playoff wins due to a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 17 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Rogers' return should boost the 49ers' secondary when it takes on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, although he may not be playing at full strength. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio shied away from saying that Rogers would assume his former starting role during Thursday's press conference. Rogers reportedly told KNBR that he expects to play as the Niners' nickel cornerback.
Tramaine Brock and Tarell Brown will likely take the field as starters. They acquitted themselves well against the Green Bay Packers, helping hold Aaron Rodgers to 17-of-26 passing for 177 yards and one touchdown. The game against the Carolina Panthers was a bit rougher, with Cam Newton going 16-for-25 for 265 yards.
Carolina's outside receiving options were held in check, more or less. Steve Smith broke loose for four receptions on five targets for 74 yards and a touchdown, which came on a nice one-on-one play in the end zone over Brown in tight coverage. Brandon LaFell's day was more subdued, with four receptions and 34 yards coming off seven targets. Ted Ginn, Jr., had 104 yards off four receptions out of the slot, but 59 yards came off one meaningless reception late. If the 49ers were truly weak covering the slot, Rogers' return should fix some of what ails them.
The Seahawks' corps of pass catchers present some difficult matchups, though not necessarily any more difficult than what the 49ers just faced, especially if Percy Harvin is held out. Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and a pair solid receiving tight ends give the 49ers a lot to handle, but San Francisco's secondary is deep and now even deeper with Rogers' return.