After Brandon Browner returned to practice Wednesday and raised hope that he might play again this season, the veteran cornerback was ruled out of Sunday’s game in San Francisco by a dismayed Pete Carroll.
“He will not play this week,” the Seahawks coach said Friday after practice. Asked whether Browner, who was recovering from a groin injury in the Atlanta game, made progress in practice, Carroll said, “No. He didn’t. He came out on the field and worked with us on Thursday and we didn’t make much progress there. So we did not bring him back out.”
Regarding Browner’s appeal of his one-year drug suspension by the NFL, Carroll was uncharacteristically terse.
“I haven’t heard a word,” he said. “Not one.”
The unsettled situation with Browner is aggravating to Carroll at least in part because the Seahawks must play the 49ers one short of the usual complement of five cornerbacks. They got away with it against New Orleans Monday night, but they are an injury away from a real personnel problem.
In anticipation of Browner’s suspension, the Seahawks last week signed veteran CB Perrish Cox, only to cut him the next day because Browner appealed the suspension. The Seahawks had to keep Browner on the active roster in case he returned to health and his appeal was granted.
Aside from Browner, who will join WR Percy Harvin on the game-inactive list, Carroll was happy with a short week of practice.
“We’ve had a great week,” he said. “These guys have really put together the kind of week that makes us feel really good about the process. Every game is huge. This is an enormous opportunity for us. We practiced the way we needed to.”
He called next week “really important” for Harvin, who played only 19 plays against Minnesota this season.
“We think we got a shot at it,” he said. “I don’t care about making that statement now, that we’re hoping for us is a big week for us, with him. It’ll be kind of week-to-week in a sense as we go forward.”
James Carpenter, who has been rotating at left guard with Paul McQuistan, will get the start.
“He’s earned that shot,” Carroll said. “We told him a couple of weeks ago we’d be in this type of rotation, to give these guys a chance to really battle. I love the fact that here we are, this late in the season, that we’re still competing for spots.”
Asked about the Niners compared to week 2, when the Seahawks won 29-3, Carroll said the return of WRs Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham was significant.
“I think they’ve got a great boost there,” he said. “Their leading receiver comes back to them and he’s a fantastic player. We get a little bit (healthier) too. This time of the year, guys are kind of coming and going. Hopefully, you can even it out. They look well-equipped and we’re in pretty good shape ourselves.
“So nobody has any excuses in this one.”
Well, the 49ers might work up an excuse in case they lose. LT Joe Staley (knee) and LG Mike Iupati (knee), both hurt last week, are listed as questionable. So is Manningham with a knee injury.