© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers’ defensive line has maybe been the most beaten up group over the last few weeks.
D.J. Jones missed time with a groin strain and sprained his ankle last week. Dee Ford hasn’t played since Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals after injuring his hamstring, in addition to the knee and quad tendinitis he’s been dealing with all season. Ronald Blair III tore his right ACL in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks and his replacement, Damontre Moore, fractured his forearm two weeks later, also ending his season. Jullian Taylor will be out for multiple weeks with an elbow ligament issue.
Dee Ford returns
But finally, there is some good news. Ford will return to face the New Orleans Saints this weekend. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was close to playing last week.
“He was very close,” Shanahan said Friday. “Probably, if it was the last game of the year, he would’ve gone. With the hamstring, if you tweak that, it’s another month, so he should be good to go on Sunday.”
However, with that tendinitis, Ford has been limited largely to third-down situations (seeing increased snaps outside of third downs in some weeks), also a product of the 49ers’ depth along the defensive line. Ford indicated it would likely require offseason surgery, something Shanahan, who said he’s capable of taking on more snaps, didn’t rule out on Friday.
“In talking to him, that’s what it sounds like. I know he went into this year with some of it,” Shanahan said. “He’s battled it before. Once it gets to this point, the more we can take care of him, the better it’ll help him for the long run. Yeah, it’s probably not going to totally come down until the offseason. The good thing about it is we’ve got some depth there, so we’ve been in some fortunate situations where we can only use him on third down or some pass situations. But, he’s capable of doing more. We’re in a good situation where we have some other guys who can do that job also.”
Jaquiski Tartt out, and what’s likely with questionables
Tartt was replaced by Marcell Harris after fracturing a rib in Baltimore, and Harris promptly forced and recovered a fumble from Lamar Jackson. Harris will get his first start of the season this week, as Tartt failed to practice in any of the team’s Florida practices at IMG Academy this week. He has a knack for explosive plays and has shone that consistently with impressive tackles as a gunner on punt returns.
On the wide receiver front, though, there’s no room for further injury. Both Dante Pettis (knee) and Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot) are listed as questionable. Shanahan said he was targeting next week for Pettis to return, so it seems unlikely that he’ll play on Sunday. Goodwin’s injury is chronic issue, Shanahan said, but he did not insinuate it was serious.
“He’s had some wear and tear, some chronic stuff and then it just flamed up enough that we had to list it today, so when we do that, it’s questionable,” Shanahan said.
The final name on the list of questionable players is Joe Staley. Shanahan said at the start of the week that he was optimistic that Staley, along with Matt Breida and Ford (both playing) would play. Staley wasn’t 100 percent when he returned against the Seahawks, and a return Sunday may be just as much about his strength, health and confidence in his left leg as it is with his surgically-repaired right ring finger.
Saints are hurting at linebacker
Two of the Saints’ starting linebackers, Kiko Alonso and A.J. Klein will be out Sunday, along with guard Andrus Peat, fullback Zach Line and tight end Jason Vander Laan.
Saints have officially ruled out two of their starting LBs for Sunday’s game against San Francisco — A.J. Klein and Kiko Alonso. LT Terron Armstead is questionable. Even if he can’t play Sunday, that’s a good sign that he’s close. pic.twitter.com/S90PPRHsBo
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) December 6, 2019