© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time this season, no one on the 49ers’ roster is listed as questionable or even doubtful. While that is simply a result of serious injuries, and the fact that everyone listed on the game status report doesn’t have a chance to play, it means there won’t be any questions about who’s up for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Don’t expect Sherman to miss regular season, unlike Ford
As was the case yesterday, Jaquiski Tartt, Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams were all doing conditioning and rehab work together on the far side of the 49ers’ practice field, not in uniform.
All three, along with defensive tackle Jullian Taylor and D.J. Jones, who will be placed on injured reserve by Saturday, are listed as out. Jones, by the way, played 33 snaps last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints with a high ankle ankle sprain before sustaining a second high ankle sprain on his other ankle, which will end his season.
“That was what was pretty impressive,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “That’s why we were somewhat optimistic about it. He did it early in the game, too. It was one of the first couple, maybe the first drive. So, that’s why we were optimistic about it, but after they looked in there and stuff, it was too bad. It’s going to be more likely eight weeks.
I talked to [general manager John] Lynch, it happened to him, too. He had a high ankle sprain. He told me his first one he finished the game on it, thought it would be alright and then the next day he got up and couldn’t walk. So, sometimes the adrenaline just goes where you can go through it, but he definitely can’t play with it.”
As for Ford and Sherman, it was reported yesterday by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that both could miss the rest of the regular season, with Ford much more definitive.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out this week and then out going forward, until January,” Rapoport said. “I’m told this is expected to be about a four-week injury. Another player you may not see until the playoffs.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 12, 2019
The idea that Sherman would miss the rest of the regular season seems far-fetched. He said yesterday that he could play this Sunday if he had to and expects to play against the Los Angeles Rams next week.
“I could play this week if we had to have it but they’re just be cautious and giving me another week,” Sherman said. “So I wrapped my mind around getting ready for this game coaching staff says it can go that can go. I expect to be a go next week.”
As for Ford, the initial diagnosis was that he would miss more time than his last hamstring injury (three weeks) and would miss the rest of the regular season. Shanahan said the timeline for the injury is “anywhere from two to four weeks. I would be not very optimistic about next week, but hopefully we can get him back before, hopefully, the playoffs.”
Ford said he’s taking the situation “day by day” and that it’s “tricky” with hamstrings. He was not, however, rushed back to face the Saints.
“I passed every part of the protocol, extensive protocol,” Ford said.” Just an unlucky situation. We checked every box. I was actually feeling better than I was before by the time I got done.”
The only question is why Sherman’s hamstring injury seems to have such an abbreviated timeline in comparison to Ford’s. Some of that is Ford re-aggravating his, but another is just that Sherman is somewhat of a lunatic when it comes to recovering from injuries.
“Nah, Sherm on a different boat,” Ford said, smiling. “Sherm going to Greece, I’m going to Africa.”
49ers not viewing Falcons as light work
The Falcons are 4-9. The 49ers are 11-2. On paper, a playoff spot has been all but clinched, though that’s not how Sunday’s matchup is being approached in Santa Clara. The Falcons are much better than their record would indicate, and they’ve won three of their last five games, including a 26-9 drubbing of the Saints.
Kyle Shanahan’s old team will not enter Levi’s Stadium being viewed as a cake walk, nor as a trap game, though that’s from the perspective that the Falcons will be a difficult opponent.
“No, not really. I mean, trap games don’t really exist unless you let them exist,” said George Kittle. “This is definitely not a trap game for us. In my opinion, I don’t think there’s really a lot of bad [teams]. I mean, like there are teams with losing records and stuff, but every NFL team has All-Americans. They have great players on their team so any Sunday, anybody. So we’re definitely not taking this game lightly. I think if anything I think we had like 10 more run plays on our install than we usually do. So, Coach Shanahan is locked, so he has us locked in as well.”
Nick Bosa, who, for once, will be facing a quarterback who sometimes take seven-step drops, was on the same wavelength.
“No, we’re not even in the playoffs,” Bosa said. “So I think that’s motivation enough for us. Kyle’s former team, he knows a lot of the guys, so obviously the culture there is probably pretty good since he came from there. But yeah, we’re preparing as if this is the biggest game all year because it is the biggest game of the year with the next game. So, yeah, we’re not taking them lightly at all.”
Kittle laments Celek’s return to IR
This was not the most productive season of Garrett Celek’s career. It took him more than half the season to be activated from the physically unable to perform list with a back injury, and he was placed on injured reserve this week. While second-longest tenured member of the 49ers did not catch a pass this season, and looked far from what he once was, Kittle did not take the news lightly.
He credited Celek as helping mold him into the player he’s become and said he’s his closest friend on the team.
“It’s not fun when you lose a guy like Garrett Celek. It’s just tough on us, just having him in the tight end room, but you know he’ll be around so that’s fine,” Kittle said. “I mean Celek is an incredible person. I give him a lot of credit for the player I become today. He definitely showed me how serious the NFL is and how you have to grow up, but you can still enjoy it while you’re going along on this hard ride.
There’s not a single person in this locker room that I think I’m a better friend with than him, so it’ll be a tough one for me but it’s football and you just kind of going to move on, but like I said, it’ll be nice to have him around, just having his leadership and his charisma, he’s definitely a glue in this locker room and that keeps us together.”
That connection was evidenced from the start of practice on Friday. Celek, wearing street clothes, was on the sideline nearest reporters, while, Kittle and the rest of the tight end group, warmed up on the far sideline (the 49ers get in two massive lines to start practice for warmups).
Kittle took his helmet off and waved Celek over to get involved in drills. He said, with a grin, that he doesn’t like his routine being interrupted.
“Yeah, he was trying to miss out on our warmup and that’s BS,” Kittle said. “I have a routine set and so I don’t like when people mess with my routines.”
Final notes: Inactive predictions and the value of Toilolo’s improved health
With a host of players listed as “out,” there is only really one guess to make here, and it’s whether the 49ers go with six wide receivers or four tight ends. It will either be Daniel Helm or wide receiver Jordan Matthews inactive, and based off Levine Toilolo being made inactive over the past couple weeks, a continued trend would indicate Helm being the fourth inactive tight end.
Shanahan said Toilolo’s health has greatly improved in recent week. Toilolo told KNBR that he was dealing with lower body injuries and even after recovering, it took time to get back into game shape through reps. Now, though, he said he’s feeling healthy.
“He was banged up for a while, too, especially when Kittle went out,” Shanahan said. “Levine had to really tough through some things for a couple weeks. Now with [TE Garrett] Celek going on IR, Levine’s health has been key because it’s just coming back right now. He’s going to have to take a much bigger role here going forward.”
CB Richard Sherman
NB K’Waun Williams
SS Jaquiski Tartt
DT Jullian Taylor
DE Dee Ford
QB C.J. Beathard
TE Daniel Helm