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49ers Notebook: Kentavius Street likely to IR, pair of receivers in doubt for Week 1

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA – It’s looking like two seasons, zero games for 49ers defensive end Kentavius Street. An ACL injury, which continues to lay siege to the team’s roster year after year, has reared its ugly head yet again. According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, Street is likely out for the season with complications and pain from the initial injury.

Kentavius Street likely to injured reserve

Street had seemingly recovered from the torn ACL in his right knee which he suffered a season ago in pre-draft workouts before being drafted by the 49ers 128th overall in the fourth round. Such was not the case. Shanahan said today, that, much like Dee Ford, but arguably more like Jerick McKinnon (who returned to practice with a knee brace on Tuesday), Street was dealing with and trying to push through knee tendinitis, something he could not shake.

Shanahan said Street had “battled” all year long and again through training camp, but, “He can’t do it anymore.” Street will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Friday, and will likely be placed on season-ending injured reserve, according to Shanahan

The tough news for Street is good news for defensive end Damontre Moore, who is on the bubble, but has a good chance to make the roster at this point. It could also be good news for defensive tackles Jullian Taylor and Kevin Givens, one of whom seem likely to make the roster as well if the 49ers take 10 defensive linemen (something that’s seemed more likely than not in the preseason, given the talent there).

An uncomfortable number of question marks at wide receiver

The 49ers have a lot to sort out at wide receiver, and the injuries there, coupled with the team likely taking three quarterbacks, could see cuts elsewhere, like at defensive line and linebacker. According to Shanahan, Trent Taylor, who’s recovering from a Jones fracture in his pinky toe, is “highly unlikely” to play in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dante Pettis is also a question with a minor groin issue (he was out of practice on Tuesday, but was doing individual workouts on the sideline) which will keep him out for next week, as is also the case for Jalen Hurd, who’s dealing with some “lingering” back stiffness. Neither, along with Marquise Goodwin (healthy) will play on Thursday, although it seems Hurd is more of a question mark for Week 1 than Pettis at this point.

Shanahan on his tough love to Dante Pettis

Much was made of Shanahan saying that Pettis is, “…still trying to earn a role on this team,” which came off very clearly like a motivating tactic. Pettis acknowledged on Monday that he does need to improve and he’s talked to Shanahan frequently about his need to do so.

On Tuesday, Shanahan responded to what seemed to be a disproportionate reaction, or interpretation of his statement.

“I know lot’s has been talked about the last couple days, a lot’s been said about the quote that I had on him, but Dante’s not in jeopardy of not making our team, but we are still trying to find out a role for him, which, when you have a guy like Dante, it can be a compliment to him, too,” Shanahan said. “He’s a guy who’s capable of having any role on this team. He could be our best player on this team, he could be our best punt returner, he could be our number one receiver, our number two receiver, our slot receiver, or just a role receiver. He has the ability to do all of that. And he has shown that he can do all of that, but he hasn’t shown it consistent enough that we know exactly what his role is, so that’s really what we’re trying to get at.”

Shanahan acknowledged his tough love approach, something he said is a factor of the high regard he holds Pettis in.

“I have been hard on Dante, but if anyone knows me, I’m the hardest on people that I believe in and I believe in him a lot,” Shanahan said. “I am always going to be probably a little disappointed because I think he can be very good and it’s important to our team that he is.”

… and on parting with Malcolm Smith

As discussed earlier, the 49ers’ released veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was essentially unable to stay healthy in his abbreviated tenure with the 49ers after signing a five-year, $26.5 million deal in 2017 (the last two years were options, read more about his release here). Shanahan discussed the heavy respect he has for Smith following his release on Tuesday.

“I think he had an unfortunate time here, especially the first year,” Shanahan said. ‘We brought him in to be our backer and he was and had a great camp and then he tore his pec and missed a whole year, and then the next year, we got Fred [Warner]. He got that opportunity and Malcolm’s handled himself with class the whole time, but I know it didn’t go the way he wanted it to or how we expected it, but he was always the player we thought he was and the person. He’s a guy I will always have a ton of respect for.”

The transaction roundup

The 49ers made a quadruplet of relatively minor roster moves over the past two days. The most significant, of course, was the release of Smith:

  • Released: LB Malcolm Smith, OL Dillon Day, OL Willie Beavers
  • Signed: DB Jordan Holland, RB Brandon Wilds, CB Chris Campbell, WR Nick Williams
  • Injured reserve: CB Tim Harris Jr. (groin). Street is likely to be added to this list.

Other notes

  • Jerick McKinnon was back in practice with a knee brace on, and “seemed alright” in what Shanahan said were the “very few reps” that he took on Tuesday. As for him making the 53-man roster, Shanahan said, “… obviously, we would love him to be.”
  • Weston Richburg won’t play on Thursday, Shanahan said, although that possibility was raised in the preceding weeks. He’s healthy.
  • The team also gave Dee Ford a hard time (in jest) in his return to practice, Shanahan said. It’s clear he was missed.
  • Shanahan, somewhat jokingly, said he wants three George Kittle’s at tight end. “You want three George’s, that’s what I keep telling them,” Shanahan said. “I’m still expecting that, but you take the best you can get, always.” The question was posed in terms of whether Shanahan would be looking for more blocking or receiving dynamism with the other tight ends; Ross Dwelley is going to make the roster and if there’s a third tight end (which is likely), it’s between rookie Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. Toilolo has one of the biggest frames on the roster at 6’8″, 268 and is a more reliable blocker, though Smith has impressed with his blocking in preseason games and seems the more likely choice to make the team.

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