49ERS Webster's status is questionable



Sunday's game will be San Francisco's first playoff game at home in four years.
VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT
The worst thing that happened to the San Francisco 49ers in Monday's meaningless loss to the St. Louis Rams wasn't the four touchdowns the team surrendered in the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Jason Webster's left ankle injury hurts much more.
Webster was knocked out of the third quarter of the game in St. Louis after he chased a Rams wide receiver into the end zone then stepped onto his foot and twisted his ankle.
"He's questionable," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said of his third-year cornerback who was a second-round draft pick in 2002 and has been starting for three seasons.
"He's down there icing it right now while watching film," Mariucci said in a telephone interview earlier this week from the team's headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. "If he can't go, [rookie Mike] Rumph will start."
Giants next
Mariucci was referring to Sunday's wild-card playoff game between the 49ers (10-6 and winners of the NFC West Division) and the wild-card New York Giants (10-6 and runners-up in the NFC East).
Sunday's game (4:30 p.m., FOX) will be San Francisco's first playoff game at home in four years. Since 1999, the Niners have been owned by John and Denise DeBartolo York of Canfield.
Last season, the Niners lost, 25-15, to the Packers in Green Bay, Wis., in the wild-card round. They missed the postseason in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
Rumph was the team's first-round draft pick last April and started two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals when the Niners' other starting corner, Ahmed Plummer, sat out.
Although Plummer and Webster are just in their third seasons, the Niners took Rumph with their top pick because they wanted to beef up their secondary, specifically to guard against the Rams' passing attack.
At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Rumph's size and speed served him well at the University of Miami where he did not surrender a touchdown in his three years as a starter.
However, his NFL rookie season has been rocky as several top quarterbacks have targeted his coverage and succeeded with scores.
"Mike is getting better and better as he gains experience," Mariucci said. "He's been very busy as a rookie."
So far, he has 42 tackles in the 15 games he's played.
Good news
The good news for the 49ers' secondary is that safety Zach Bronson, who has been out since mid-October with a broken foot, is available.

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