49ers lose their ‘shark’ and edge rusher to IR, have limited replacement options with new COVID rules

Photo Credit: 49ers


On Sunday, the 49ers had George Kittle and Deebo Samuel return from injury. Their two best yards-after-catch players from a year ago returned to bolster a mostly healthy offense. This week, they may get additional reinforcements, though the defense, especially the line and secondary, is still reeling.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan provided a bevy of injury updates on Monday, with none of them exceedingly glowing. The two most substantial injury updates are regarding K’Waun Williams and Ziggy Ansah.

Current injuries

  • K’Waun Williams (knee sprain): Suffered a knee sprain, will go on injured reserve, meaning he’ll be out for at least the next three games. Can return, at earliest, against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8.
  • Ziggy Ansah (biceps): Tore a bicep, will undergo likely season-ending surgery.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle sprain): Shanahan is “hopeful” that Garoppolo, along with Dre Greenlaw, Raheem Mostert and Ahkello Witherspoon can return to practice on Wednesday. He said last week he’d have to prove he can get into uncomfortable situations without fear of injury, and is still not sure about Garoppolo’s availability on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
  • Dre Greenlaw (quad): Has quietly had a quad issue keep him out of the last two games, but as mentioned, could return to practice Wednesday.
  • Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring): Could return to practice Wednesday.
  • Emmanuel Moseley (concussion): Still in concussion protocol. Status is unclear.
  • Raheem Mostert (MCL sprain): Could return to practice Wednesday, but unlikely to play on Sunday.
  • Richard Sherman (calf): Eligible to come off injured reserve this week. Like Mostert, Shanahan’s confidence is “not real high” that both can return this week. It would be a “good surprise” if those two return.
  • Richie James Jr. (hamstring): Eligible to come off injured reserve this week. Main impediment is the fact that there are six active wide receivers on the roster, though James is viewed by the team as the best returner. His activation would likely mean the end of Dante Pettis or Trent Taylor. Pettis sustained a knee injury on Sunday, or at least Shanahan said so, meaning one path is to put Pettis on injured reserve under that guise rather than cutting him.

Replacements amid new COVID rules

On Monday, the NFL issued new COVID-19 guidelines, making it exceedingly difficult for teams to sign and work out players. Teams already had to wait for three negative COVID tests to have players in team facilities. It’s yet unclear exactly what these changes entail, but it means, according to Shanahan, that the 49ers likely won’t be able to try out any players this week and sign them by Sunday.

What does that mean for the 49ers?

With K’Waun Williams heading to injured reserve, Jamar Taylor will stay on the active roster as his replacement for the next three weeks, at least. Taylor came in on the “Shark blitz” as Shanahan called it (Shark is Williams’ nickname) and sacked Carson Wentz on his first snap. San Francisco could opt to utilize more of Tarvarius Moore in order to limit Taylor’s time on the field.

The rules more closely affect the injury to Ziggy Ansah. While Ronald Blair III is on the physically unable to perform list, he’s not eligible to return until Week 7. That leaves Alex Barrett, who was cut and re-signed at least three times this summer, as the lone defensive end on the team’s practice squad. He’s likely to be promoted this week.

 

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