With a change in quarterbacks, a knack for officials to make bad calls against the 49ers at crucial times, the team’s litany of defensive injuries has gone relatively unnoticed.
That might change after the team lost its third starter and second on the defensive line Sunday, when Arik Armstead broke his hand. He might join defensive end Tank Carradine (ankle) on injured reserve after Armstead undergoes surgery. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said the team might have to sign another lineman for depth.
Unfortunately, the injuries strike at the team’s strength, their defensive line. Complicating the issue is pass rusher Aaron Lynch (calf muscle sprain), who is listed as day-to-day. However Shanahan doesn’t believe Lynch will be available Sunday for the visiting Cowboys.
Even by signing another player, Shanahan is likely to play veteran Elvis Dumervil and rookie Solomon Thomas more than he wants.
“I would like to keep Elvis fresh,” Shanahan said of the 11-year veteran. “It’s tough when you have injuries.”
It also means young players like Thomas will need to play more and play better. Thomas may have had a breakout performance in Washington, after struggling a week earlier against the Colts.
“He definitely had an affect on that game,” Shanahan said of Thomas. The former Stanford star led the team in tackles with nine and that included a 5-yard sack and one other tackle for a loss. It’s unusual to see a defensive end lead a team in tackles. That designation usually goes to a linebacker.