SANTA CLARA -- Injured cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has been impressed by what he's seen from his replacement, Tramaine Brock, who's expected to be the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback for a second straight game Sunday night.

"He's played well ever since I've been here. He's quick," said Asomugha, an 11th-year veteran who joined the 49ers in April.

Brock, who's 5-foot-10, will need his speed Sunday night to help keep track of Houston Texans star Andre Johnson, who's 6-3.

"I like that matchup. (Brock) is an aggressive corner, and he's not going to back down by any means," safety Eric Reid said. "We're going to depend on him to do his job."

Johnson is listed as questionable because of a shin injury, but he told Houston-area reporters: "It's all right. I'm playing. That's all that matters."

Johnson ranks first in NFL history with 81.8 receiving yards per game.

Brock played well in the 49ers' win at St. Louis on Sept. 26, tipping a third-down pass that Donte Whitner snagged for an interception in the 49ers end zone. "That was a very critical play at that time and he made that," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "And he made some other good plays."

Brock had been limited to special-teams snaps through the 49ers' first three games. A fourth-year veteran, he's playing this season on the one-year, $1,323,000 million tender he received as a restricted free agent. That's a higher salary than starter Tarell Brown ($925,000) and Asomugha ($1 million)


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Asomugha hyperextended his right knee making a tackle in the fourth quarter of a Sept. 22 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He's listed as questionable for Sunday and likely will return Oct. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The 49ers are one of seven teams who've yet to see one of their cornerbacks make an interception this season. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown in each of the past three games.

Aside from trying to pick off Schaub or cover Johnson, Brock and the rest of the pass defense will also have to contend with DeAndre Hopkins, who's been named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month for September.

  • Linebacker Patrick Willis (groin) has made daily progress but likely is a game-time decision, according to coach Jim Harbaugh. Willis, who missed the St. Louis game, is officially listed as questionable.

  • Also questionable are tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring), right tackle Anthony Davis (shoulder), defensive tackles Ray McDonald (ankles) and Justin Smith (shoulder), fullback Bruce Miller (quadriceps) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee). That group practiced in limited fashion Friday, as did Willis and Asomugha.

  • Left tackle Joe Staley (right hamstring, left ankle) fully practiced all week and is probable for Sunday, as are left guard Mike Iupati (shoulder), wide receiver Kyle Williams (knee) and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (calf).

  • Brian Cushing, the Houston Texans' marquee linebacker, has been cleared to play after passing post-concussion tests, coach Gary Kubiak said. The Texans defense collapsed once Cushing exited in the second half of Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

  • The Texans won't have right guard Brandon Brooks (toe) or linebacker Tim Dobbins (hamstring) available, but left tackle Duane Brown (toe) is expected to start. Ben Jones, a 10-game starter last season as a rookie, will replace Brooks in the lineup.

  • Ray Wersching will serve as the 49ers' honorary captain Sunday night, in recognition of his field goal that secured their record 28-point comeback over the New Orleans Saints in 1980. The 49ers trailed 35-7 at halftime before posting a 38-35 overtime win.

  • Donte Whitner lost the appeal of his $21,000 fine for his unnecessary-roughness hit on the Rams' Chris Givens, the league confirmed. Smith and the Rams' Janoris Jenkins each got docked $7,875 for separate face-mask penalties.

  • The 49ers are 14-3-1 at home since 2011, the league's third-best such mark behind the Green Bay Packers (16-1) and Baltimore Ravens (16-2). Under Harbaugh, the 49ers are 4-0 at home in prime-time games, and they won their only other Sunday night affair at Candlestick (2012, Detroit Lions, 27-19).

  • Moran Norris, 49ers star Frank Gore's best friend and a former 49ers and Texans fullback, visited the 49ers facility Friday. Norris played 11 NFL seasons before the Texans cut him after the 2012 training camp. He spoke to Harbaugh before practice but was not auditioning.

    For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.