SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20: Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers runs on to the field for their game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Staley
If the San Francisco 49ers are going to keep their hot streak alive and keep this improbable charge toward the NFC West title, they're going to have to do it mostly without the services of one of their premier offensive linemen.
Staley actually remained in the game awhile without realizing he had a broken leg. But he was clearly physically limited, and was flagged twice within a couple of plays for holding penalties. One of those calls wiped out a 43-yard Vernon Davis touchdown catch.
It's not a certainty that Staley will even be able to play again in the 2010 regular season. The earliest he'd be able to return is the 49ers' next-to-last game of the regular season on Sunday, December 26. Should he be able to play in that game, he would be making his return against these very same St. Louis Rams.
Seventh-year veteran guard Tony Wragge filled in for Staley, and will likely continue to do so for much of the remainder of the 49ers' season.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who did not realize until just today that Joe Staley was drafted in 2007 with a pick the 49ers got in a trade with the New England Patriots, who then used the fourth-rounder they got in that deal to acquire Randy Moss from the Raiders.