2/3 TC For the San Francisco 49ers, there's no quarterback question about it -- it's Steve Bono.
With a three-game winning streak to his credit and the other Steve still slowed by a bum knee, Bono remains the 49ers' starting quarterback -- at least for another week -- as San Francisco suddenly finds postseason play no longer out of the question.
"Steve [Young] is improved from a week ago . . . but we have him listed as the second quarterback going into this game," 49ers coach George Seifert said yesterday. "Steve [Bono] is the starter."
By defeating the New Orleans Saints, 38-24, Sunday, the 49ers moved into the wild-card picture. They are above .500 for the first time this season at 7-6, within two games of the division-leading Saints, who have lost three in a row. The 49ers also trail the Falcons by one game.
* RAIDERS: The team will be without six-time Pro Bowl defensive
end Howie Long for at least two weeks and probably until some time into the playoffs.
Long, 31, suffered a first-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee early in the Raiders' 9-7 win over the Chargers.
Team doctors used a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test to determine that Long sustained slight ligament damage, rather than anything serious enough to require surgery.
"It's a week-to-week thing," Raiders coach Art Shell said. "There's no tear, so that's good. It could be a week and a half, could be two weeks, could be three weeks.
"There is some soreness, which is to be expected. . . . Hopefully, there's good news in that the doctors don't think it's serious."
Shell said rookie Nolan Harrison would get the bulk of Long's playing time.
* CARDINALS: A metal screw will be inserted Friday into the left ankle of strong safety Tim McDonald.
McDonald and Tyronne Stowe, a starting inside linebacker, twisted their left ankles during the same practice Friday. McDonald is out for the season, and Stowe was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
Coach Joe Bugel said Dave Duerson, a free agent signed Oct. 2, would start at strong safety. Sidney Coleman would replace Stowe if Stowe is unable to go at inside linebacker.
Stowe had won a starting job three games ago.