SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- There is a chance the San Francisco 49ers will have one of their standout offensive linemen back for a crucial game against visiting Seattle on Sunday.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday left guard Mike Iupati, who is undergoing an exam on Monday, could play in the game. Harbaugh said Iupati, who has missed the past two games with a sprained MCL, will likely be monitored throughout the week and the final determination whether he plays will likely be made closer to game day. He has been replaced by Adam Snyder.
Harbaugh did not have an update on star left tackle Joe Staley on Monday. Staley left Sunday's win against St. Louis with a knee injury. Sources said, after the game, the initial diagnosis was Staley sprained his right MCL. He could miss a couple of games. Harbaugh said Monday the team was hopeful it is not more serious.
Update: The word on Staley on Monday evening is he’s week-to-week. How he responds to treatment will determine how long he will be out, but it likely won’t be for an extended period.
With Staley out, right guard Alex Boone moved to left tackle and the inexperienced Joe Looneytook over at right guard. Harbaugh said Monday the makeshift unit played well.
If Iupati misses Sunday's game, the 49ers will have three replacements playing. The 49ers' offense has yet to play a down this season with the starting 11 and that may not happen until Week 16.
ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said playing without so many offensive linemen at their natural spot will catch up to the 49ers if the situation lingers.
“I think Staley is one of the top three or four LTs in the NFL and is especially great in the run game and yes, he will be missed for sure,” Williamson said. “But Boone was a LT at Ohio State and came to the NFL as an OT prospect. He certainly has that body type. He might be a better 'band aid' player there for the short term than most teams have if their starting LT were to fall, but still, San Francisco is now weaker at three offensive line spots than when the starters are available."