SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambled to his left in his own end zone in the third quarter of Sunday’s 37-8 San Francisco 49ers win, defensive lineman Damontre Moore chased him down and pushed him out of bounds as Richard Sherman was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
Neither Moore nor the team knew that he had fractured his forearm in the process until well after the game (and postgame press conferences) ended. He made two more solo tackles and an assist after the injury. “We were really impressed,” head coach Kyle shanahan said on Monday.
As impressed as Shanahan was, that doesn’t change the fact that on Monday, along with announcing that All-Pro Joe Staley could return this week, Shanahan announced that Moore — himself an injury replacement — is out for the season.
“I know he’s really down because he wanted to be a part of this for the rest of the year, and he will be; going on IR, it’s not like he disappears, but he won’t be able to go out there anymore,” Shanahan said. “It was just really cool how he played these two weeks. It was exactly like the preseason. He put everything on the line, doing everything he could to earn a job.”
After spending the preseason with the team and playing the final two preseason games with a dislocated thumb, Moore — who used a stint in the Alliance of American Football to resuscitate his career — was a victim of roster math, but was highly regarded by the 49ers brass. He was brought back two weeks ago after Ronald Moore went down with a torn ACL, and quickly ingratiated himself to teammates by forcing a key turnover in his San Francisco debut. He finished Sunday playing 38 of 74 snaps on defense, with three combined tackles and a quarterback hurry.
“To watch him on tape, playing with that [broken forearm], shows you he’s a special dude,” Shanahan said.
Moore will undergo surgery this week, and will be placed on injured reserve. Instead of going outside the organization, the 49ers will bring up practice squad member Jeremiah Valoaga. The 25-year-old defensive end out of UNLV played with the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and was on the practice squad with the Dolphins last season.
In good injury news for the 49ers, All-Pro left tackle Joe Staley (finger) looks to also have a chance to play this week against Baltimore, Shanahan said, after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. He was slated to get his finger checked again on Monday, and had already started doing limited work last week.
If Staley doesn’t play, Daniel Brunskill would be the most likely option to replace him. Brunskill — like Moore, an AAF alum — has a 98.2 pass-blocking efficiency rating in 137 pass blocking sets this season. While he doesn’t have enough snaps to place him among qualifying tackles, he would rank fourth in the NFL, and he’s done it on both sides of the formation.
Justin Skule was banged up headed into the game and only played 20 snaps, and Shanahan said he’d use this week to determine whether it would be the sixth-round rookie or Brunskill who would start, should Staley be unable to go.
Shanahan placed Staley, kicker Robbie Gould (quad) and running back Matt Breida (ankle) in the same category for this week’s match-up against the 8-2 Ravens: “Real close.”
If Gould played another position, Shanahan said, he’d likely be playing already. In his stead, rookie Chase McLaughlin has gone 7-for-8 on field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder to put San Francisco up 23-0 with four seconds to go before the half on Sunday.
In other injury news, defensive tackle Julian Taylor suffered a jaw contusion, and right guard Mike Person suffered stingers against the Packers. They will be evaluated on Wednesday. Tight end George Kittle — whose chipped left ankle that looks like “like a piece of tree bark,” according to Shanahan, and whose popped left knee capsule kept him out of two games — is feeling fine coming off his first game back.
“He felt good,” Shanahan said. “You’re always in a little bit of pain when you play through that stuff, but it didn’t seem like he had any setbacks. He should be good to go this week. We’ve got to be smart with how we practice him, just like last week.”
Pass rusher Dee Ford (hamstring strain) has a chance to to play on Sunday, which would give San Francisco’s defense a big boost when facing Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, a mobile quarterback the likes of which the 49ers have struggled against this season. Shanahan estimated Ford’s chances at 50-50. One week ago, Shanahan feared Ford would miss multiple games.
“Usually when you have a hamstring, it usually takes a couple weeks, so I think it will be two weeks on Sunday, so he’s got a chance,” Shanahan said.