SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers fear that pass rusher Dee Ford could miss several weeks.
That means the 49ers will be without both of their top offseason pass rushing acquisitions — Kwon Alexander is out for the year with a torn pectoral — when they face NFC North-leading Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers this coming Sunday.
“Any time you have a hamstring strain, there is concern that it could be a couple of weeks,” Shanahan said.
This season, San Francisco has had the luxury of playing with one of the most effective defensive lines in the NFL. Comprised of first-round picks Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa and Ford, San Francisco is tied with the Carolina Panthers for the most sacks in the NFL through 10 games with 39.
A large portion of this success can be credited to Ford, who the 49ers acquired in March by sending their 2020 second-round pick to the Chiefs.
With 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles this year, Ford has become an edge-rushing specialist for San Francisco, complementing Bosa, who lines up in a wide-nine technique on the opposite end of the line of scrimmage.
Ford has also missed two games this season — Week 5 against Cleveland and Week 8 against Carolina — with knee tendinitis, but this hamstring injury could keep him sidelined through the 49ers toughest stretch of the season against a the Packers, Ravens and Saints, teams that are a combined 24-6. Those three teams are led by Rodgers, Lamar Jackson and Drew Brees — all MVP-caliber quarterbacks capable of single-handedly dominating a game.
San Francisco is already without Alexander, defensive end Ronald Blair III — who suffered a torn ACL in Week 10 against Seattle — as well as interior defensive lineman D.J. Jones, who strained his groin against the Seahawks as well.
The 49ers, Shanahan said, might be looking at bringing in additional talent along the defensive line, as they did this week by signing seven-year veteran Damontre Moore, who was cut by San Francisco after he injured his thumb in Week 2 of the preseason.
“We’ll see how it is, but we’re not sure yet,” Shanahan said.
In his first regular season game with the team, Moore recorded two tackles and forced a key fumble. Along with Moore, second year defensive end Julain Taylor will likely see more snaps in the coming weeks as Shanahan expects someone in-house to step up while Ford is out.
“One of the guys in our building. We don’t have it yet,” Shanahan said. “We’ll mix it around. We have guys that can play inside and can play outside. But it’s one of the guys that you have seen already.”
– In addition to Ford, Shanahan listed eight more players on Monday’s injury report:
Robbie Gould (quad)
George Kittle (knee/ankle)
Azeez Al-Shaair (concussion)
Matt Brieda (ankle)
D.J. Jones (groin)
Emmanuel Sanders (ribs)
Deebo Samuel (shoulder)
K’Waun Williams (stinger)
– Shanahan was unwilling to disclose Kittle’s exact knee/ankle injury but stated that he was close to playing against Arizona.
“Close enough to not rule him out,” he said. “I don’t want to get into exactly what’s wrong with him.”
On Sunday, Kittle also declined to provide the Examiner with an update on his status but was seen walking without a noticeable limp throughout the locker room.
In Kittle’s absence, the 49ers have been forced to find other reliable targets in their passing game such as Samuel, who recorded his second-straight game of at least 100 yards receiving against the Cardinals, the first time a San Francisco rookie recorded eight catches and at least 100 yards in consecutive games.
Backup tight end Ross Dwelley also proved valuable for San Francisco on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns on four receptions.
As for Kittle, his status is still to be determined according to Shanahan.
“I can’t remember what the doctor said but know it’s enough to keep most people out some time, which it has for George — he’s missed two games now,” he said. “I know it will go down to the wire this week.”