Backup tight end Vance McDonald, who is nursing a right knee injury, is also questionable, keeping the spotlight on third-stringer Derek Carrier.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who appeared on the injury report Thursday for the first time with a back issue but was a full participant then, was again a full participant Friday. He is listed as probable.
Following is the 49ers' status report for Sunday:
OUT: C Marcus Martin (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), RT Anthony Davis (hamstring), TE Vernon Davis (ankle/knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee)
PROBABLE: RB Carlos Hyde (calf), QB Colin Kaepernick (back), DL Justin Smith (not injury related), LT Joe Staley (knee)
"It's only going to get me better," Ward said after the game.
"I was challenging him ... I was trying to press him and [get] in his face, but he made some great catches. He's good with his body."
And now, after enduring a -1.6 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus, Ward figures to get a healthy dose of another physical wideout in the Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald, who is 6-3, 225 pounds and has lined up in the slot 36.7 percent of the time in two games.
So how can Ward improve in that potential matchup, especially in the red zone?
"Play a little firmer," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Know that the body that he's going against is bigger than his and get him some help. He's just got to play a little better. He was trying to do things right the other night, but just weren't good enough.
"It's not a major overhaul or panic button, he's just got to be a little bit better."
Fangio as well as other players have talked with Ward this week to keep his confidence up after a rough outing.
"He's a confident competitor, but yet accountable," Fangio said. "He knows if a play isn't good enough, he knows that. He doesn't start to look for excuses or point the finger. He just looks at himself. But, yeah, he's a confident guy."
As is the eight-time Pro Bowler Fitzgerald.
My prediction: 49ers 24, Cardinals 23
And in that same time frame, every other team in the 32-team NFL has had at least six different players with a TD catch.
Earlier in the week, coach Jim Harbaugh said he thought the 49ers “dodged a bullet” with Davis’ injury, which occurred when he was rolled up on by Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic after being tackled on an 8-yard reception with about 10 minutes to play in the 49ers’ 28-20 loss on Sunday night.
But Davis has not practiced this week and was limping badly around the locker room on Thursday, days after he needed crutches to get around.
Asked Wednesday if he thought Davis would play this weekend, Kaepernick shrugged.
“I’m not going to talk on another man’s injury,” Kaepernick said.
Then let the stats do the talking, because the last wideout to catch a Kaepernick TD pass other than Boldin or Crabtree was Randy Moss in Week 15 of the 2012 season.
Kaepernick has thrown 177 passes to players other than Davis, Boldin and Crabtree over the past two seasons without connecting for a TD.
San Jose police said Thursday they responded to a 911 call in May at the home of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, after a man called and said a woman grabbed a gun during a dispute between the engaged couple.
No names were mentioned in the report, and there were no arrests as police said the weapon was never pointed and no threats were made.
The home belongs to McDonald.
According to the police report, the woman held a handgun "at her side" during the dispute but put it down and fled after the man said he was going to call 911. The gun was registered to the man.
The call occurred at the same address where McDonald was arrested on felony domestic assault charges on Aug. 31. The court date for that incident was postponed Monday and rescheduled for Sept. 29.
Police have told multiple media outlets that follow-up investigations are still ongoing. Police also told the San Jose Mercury News that the May case has no bearing on the August incident that involves McDonald.
San Jose police have released few details surrounding McDonald's arrest in August, saying only that officers at the scene saw the accuser, who was pregnant, with "visible injuries."
The 49ers have maintained that they will let due process play out, even in the face of calls from the likes of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to deactivate McDonald, who has started both of the 49ers' games this season.
Also, left tackle Joe Staley was upgraded to full participation a day after being limited with a knee injury.
Tight ends Vernon Davis (left ankle/knee) and Vance McDonald (right knee) were out again, as was cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (left hamstring) and center Marcus Martin (knee).
Running back Carlos Hyde (calf) and defensive lineman Justin Smith (not injury related) were also full participants.
"I just try to focus on what I need to do individually to help the team the most," Carrier said Thursday. "That’s just go out there and execute and do my job."
He was rushed into service late in Sunday’s 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears, two of his three catches coming after Davis and McDonald were hurt. For the game, Carrier had three receptions, the first of his career, for 41 yards, including a clutch 22-yard pickup.
"He plays fearless," said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. "He goes out, he’s going to give you everything he has, and he’s willing to go and make a play. I think he showed that on Sunday."
If he has to show it again this Sunday in Arizona, the 49ers will be short-handed in terms of bodies and experience between Kaepernick and Carrier, but not confidence.
"It’s something that comes with time, comes with reps," Carrier said. "And that’s why I think the last game against Chicago was valuable for myself, getting that time with Kap to work.
"For me, I think it was a great learning experience being there at crunch time and being able to get some reps in there. Unfortunately we got the loss, but for me I thought it was a great learning experience."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jerry Rice has joined former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Steve Young in suggesting that the San Francisco 49ers bench defensive lineman Ray McDonald while the criminal investigation in the wake of his Aug. 31 arrest for domestic violence continues.
Rice told Sports Illustrated he shares the feelings of his former quarterback, who offered the same opinion on ESPN's "Monday Night Countdown" last week.
"I would have totally just taken him off the field until it was resolved," Rice said Thursday, "but they have decided to let him play, and it's just unfortunate. But I feel when you have something that's weighing you down like that, and because it's a very important topic and it's very sensitive, I just feel he should have been taken off the field."
The 49ers have maintained their stance several times -- that they will let due process play out, even in the face of calls from the likes of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to deactivate McDonald, who has started both of the 49ers' games.
"You've seen there's been a lot of public speculation and people weighing in with their opinion, whether it's a public figure or people through social media," coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "Our response would be, we have two principles at play here. One is respect for due process, and we're not going to flinch based on public speculation."
McDonald has not been charged. San Jose police continue their investigation before sending their findings to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for consideration of charges.
Martin allowed two fourth-quarter sacks in the Bears’ comeback win, along with four pressures overall, to post a -1.2 grade, per Pro Football Focus.
"I thought I played well for a lot of the game," he said at the time. "That last drive is obviously not up to par. So, it’s frustrating. It’s something to improve on. Got to do better next time, next game."
Among other 49ers offensive linemen, right guard Alex Boone allowed two hurries and had a grade of -0.7 in his first start after holding out for a new contract all summer, and left guard Mike Iupati had a good game with a +1.8 grade.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, though, would not comment specifically on the job done by Martin.
"We could talk about a lot of guys," Harbaugh said. "There’s some really good things and things that we’ll look to improve on. We all kind of fall into that category right now after this game. We all feel like we have fingerprints on it.
"Some really good things were done by Jonathan Martin, by our offense, by our defense, by our special teams. Other things we need to improve on."
But in the 49ers’ 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, in which Kaepernick threw three interceptions and lost a fumble while the Niners blew leads of 17-0 and 20-7, Kaepernick excelled when facing undue pressure but struggled mightily when he had time to look downfield, so to speak.
And yet ...
“I don’t see the difference in his play,” insisted coach Jim Harbaugh, “whether he’s blitzed or not blitzed.”
Then it’s in the results.
Consider: On 11 dropbacks in which he was blitzed by the Bears, Kaepernick had a passer rating of 117.7 in completing 5 of 8 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown, per Pro Football Focus. And when he was not blitzed? Kaepernick’s rating was just 46.2 on those 31 dropbacks with all three of his picks coming in those situations as he completed 16-of-26 for 202 yards.
He was also 1-for-5, a 22-yard completion, with two INTs on throws at least 20 yards downfield.
“I guess that’s really dictated by what the defense was doing,” he said.
“We just look at plays as far as whether they’re good or bad.”
Might the Bears have taken a page from the Seattle Seahawks’ playbook and provided the Arizona Cardinals with a blueprint on how to flummox Kaepernick – flood the line, seal the edge and stay away from the blitz?
Or was it simply an anomaly on Sunday?
The others to sit out practice as San Francisco geared up for Sunday’s divisional matchup at the Arizona Cardinals: cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), right tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), center Marcus Martin (knee), tight end Vance McDonald (knee) and defensive lineman Justin Smith (not injury related).
Left tackle Joe Staley (knee) was limited while rookie running back Carlos Hyde (calf) was a full participant.