© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Following a 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 40-degree, constant rain, Richard Sherman limped out to the visiting press conference room, his right leg held stiff as he lurched up onto the riser holding the podium. As Ahkello Witherspoon and Trent Taylor and every other player asked to give a self-assessment has proven, ignore what players say about their injuries.
Sherman suffers knee sprain, Tartt fractures rib, D.J. Jones hurt again
Sherman said then that his knee gave out on him during the game, but that he would play next Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He pulled himself over to the sidelines and was attended to, clearly grimacing before re-entering the game with a noticeable limp.
On Monday, head coach Kyle Shanahan said Sherman was among the many non-minor injuries the 49ers were dealt against the Ravens. Shanahan said Sherman suffered a right knee sprain, and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who was replaced by Marcell Harris (who had a forced fumble and recovery almost immediately against Lamar Jackson), suffered a fractured rib.
Both are considered day-to-day, along with D.J. Jones, who told KNBR two weeks ago he was focused on staying healthy, a sentiment later echoed by Shanahan. He had been dealing with a recurring groin injury, and suffered a sprained ankle and did not return on Sunday.
Shanahan indicated the rib fracture could come down to Tartt’s ability to tolerate the pain, but will not be clear until the team practices and is further evaluated this week. As for Sherman, it’s much like George Kittle’s knee and ankle injury.
“He’s a guy that I would never rule out,” Shanahan said. “I understand though. I see him walking the way you guys did, too. A normal person I probably would rule out just by the eye test, but you can never rule those types of guys out.”
Another loss on the defensive line
A surprise loss was Jullian Taylor, who has a “ligament issue with his elbow” and is expected to be out for at least “a couple weeks, maybe more.”
Shanahan was not asked whether Taylor and Jones’ injuries would require roster moves, but considering the fact that there are now just six currently healthy defensive linemen (Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Day, Jeremiah Valoaga), it’s probably safe to assume a move will be made.
There are three internal options, with two much more likely than the third. The team has Kentavius Street on injured reserve, who told KNBR three weeks ago that he was healthy enough to return to practice should the team need him. Shanahan views him as an interior presence, and he can open his three-week practice window at any time before the end of the season, something that Shanahan said he would feel comfortable doing when/if the need arises.
More than likely, Street’s window is opened, and the 49ers will evaluate him in practice. The second option is Kevin Givens, a preseason standout on the interior, currently on the team’s practice squad. Depending on how serious Jones’ ankle sprain is, both could be activated on Sunday (which would necessitate either putting Taylor on injured reserve, and/or cutting a player or two, likely kicker Chase McLaughlin, and one of the 49ers’ four active tight ends).
The third and least likely internal option is practice squad defensive lineman Alex Barrett, who went to San Diego State University opposite offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill.
The other four: Dee Ford, Joe Staley, Matt Breida and Dante Pettis
Those first three names are trending towards returns, though with no certainty. Pettis, with a knee sprain, is overwhelmingly unlikely to play.
“I’m holding out hope on all of them,” Shanahan said. “I’m definitely more optimistic about Breida, Ford and Staley. I would be surprised to get Pettis back. None of them are for sure, though. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get three of the four.”
Ford’s return would allow less of necessity for Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead to play outside, and would maybe mean one roster move on the defensive line, rather than two. Still, two losses on the interior could necessitate corresponding moves; the situation will come into focus later in the week.