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49ers Notebook: Ronald Blair suffered setback, Ahkello Witherspoon out of favor

Photo Credit: 49ers

It’s not looking great for Ahkello Witherspoon’s 49ers career. The former third-round pick in 2017 has gone from a once-promising young starter, to losing his job multiple times and now set to ride the bench again.

Emmanuel Moseley likely to return, re-claims job

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday that the team expects Moseley to clear the final part of the concussion protocol on Saturday, and if that happens, that he’ll start at boundary corner on Sunday. That left the question of whether Ahkello Witherspoon or Jason Verrett would start as the field corner.

Shanahan said Verrett would remain there, leaving Witherspoon to be the first option off the bench.

Witherspoon had a bit of a debacle on Sunday, suiting up for the game but being available only as an emergency option. Yet he told the coaching staff in the second quarter, only after Brian Allen got torched by the Miami Dolphins, that he could play. So, Witherspoon entered the game after the result was all but decided.

Despite that hamstring tightness, he didn’t appear on the 49ers’ practice report once this week, practicing in full with no concern about his hamstring, less than three days after it prevented him from starting.

This does not bode well for Witherspoon’s career in Santa Clara or elsewhere, as he prepares to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer, along with the majority of the 49ers’ secondary.

Witherspoon, Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, Dontae Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley (restricted) are all free agents this offseason. Money is increasingly tight, and it’s unclear if the team can or wants to retain all of those players.

PUP group out for longer than expected, Richard Sherman in wait-and-see mode

Shanahan had long declined to get into specifics about the trio of players the 49ers had on the Physically Unable to Perform list: Jullian Taylor, Weston Richburg and Ronald Blair III.

With the group eligible to return to practice after this week’s game, Shanahan revealed the expectations have shifted substantially. No one in that group is expected to be able to return until the Week 10-12 window. This is especially surprising for Ronald Blair, given that he was almost retained on the active roster, and the team expected he could be ready to go within the first three weeks of the season.

What changed for Blair? A setback, discernibly resulting from complications with surgery he underwent on his torn ACL over the offseason.

“Ronald Blair did have a setback, had to redo some things to his knee, some stuff that they messed up in it,” Shanahan said. “He is doing a lot better from that, but that’s why he’s going to be a couple weeks longer than expected.”

Richard Sherman, who initially targeted this week for his return, is looking at being out another week or longer. He received an anti-inflammatory injection for his calf and will rest and have the injury evaluated.

Shanahan said, “… you see how it is, whether it’s next week or the week after,” that Sherman could return to practice.

Game status report: Garoppolo good to go

The following players are listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams:

S Marcell Harris (ankle)

CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion) – needs to pass, and is expected to pass, final part of concussion protocol

RB Jeffery Wilson (calf)

The following players are OUT:

Kwon Alexander (high ankle sprain) – Shanahan does not expect to have to place him on injured reserve

Dontae Johnson (quad)


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