49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is pessimistic about a few banged-up veterans ahead of next Sunday’s pivotal prime-time game against the Seattle Seahawks to decide the NFC West champion.
Pass rusher Dee Ford, who missed four of the last five games with a hamstring injury, is unlikely to play in Seattle, which is notable given the uncharacteristic struggles San Francisco had rushing the passer in recent weeks.
“Ford, we’ll see how this week progresses, but I’m not expecting to have him this week,” Shanahan said in a conference call Sunday.
The 49ers in Saturday’s 34-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams failed to record a sack for the second time in three games and could use Ford to complement Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. Solomon Thomas has provided little in Ford’s absence while also working inside as the team plays without its top nose tackle, D.J. Jones.
San Francisco has just three sacks in the last four weeks after averaging four over the first 11 contests.
Additionally, Shanahan indicated he’s preparing for starting right guard Mike Person to miss his second consecutive game with a neck injury. Person was active Saturday, but he didn’t play as a snap as Daniel Brunskill made his first start of the season at guard. Brunskill got his playing time earlier this season at right tackle when Mike McGlinchey was out with a torn meniscus.
San Francisco allowed a season-worst six sacks against the Rams, with 1 1/2 coming from reigning defensive player of the year Aaron Donald, who spent much of his night matched up with Brusnkill.
Still, Shanahan was impressed with the way Brunskill played.
“I thought he stepped in and did very well,” Shanahan said. “He had a huge challenge with him going against a very good D line and one of the best players in the league in Donald. And he definitely got him a couple times, but he competed hard with him. He got him and I thought he had a very impressive game.”
Shanahan indicated the job is Person’s once he’s fully healthy. Person has dealt with multiple injuries throughout the season. The neck injury has been the only one to keep him from playing.
“We respect the hell out of him for battling through all this stuff and still getting out there and playing,” Shanahan said. “But, we got to make sure we don’t put Mike out there when he’s not at his best. Especially with Dan getting this experience he got at tackle, now he’s able to come in and step up at guard, get a fresh guy out there out that’s healthy has helped the team. I know Mike will battle and be ready whenever need be, and if his neck can heal up and allow him to practice, then we’ll get him out there right away. Right now, I don’t see that happening this week, unless some drastic things can change at practice.”
And with the exception of two bad snaps from shotgun, including one early in the game in the red zone, Shanahan said he was happy with the way Ben Garland played at center in place of Weston Richburg, who was lost for the year two weeks ago with a knee injury.
Shanahan said the status for safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) is uncertain for Sunday. Tartt has been replaced by second-year pro Marcell Harris the last two games.
“We’ll see how his ribs are Tuesday when we get ready for practice,” he said. “Not sure, depends how he feels that day.”
Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) is expected to practice Tuesday after returning to practice Thursday, though he was inactive against the Rams.
The 49ers have an extra day to prepare for their game in Seattle after playing Saturday. They’ll begin their practice week a day early on Tuesday to give players time off for Christmas on Wednesday before returning to their normal schedule Thursday and Friday.
Matt Breida’s fumble issues not a factor in lack of playing time
Matt Breida has been one of San Francisco’s most productive running backs over the last three seasons. But he didn’t play an offensive snap Saturday. His only work came on nine special teams snaps.
“We didn’t go in planning for him not having any plays on offense,” Shanahan said. “It just worked out that way.”
The plan, Shanahan said, was to rotate Breida in during longer series. The problem, particularly in the second half, was the 49ers’ inability to extend drives. They had just one first down in the third quarter while Raheem Mostert (11 carries, 53 yards) and Tevin Coleman (5 carries, 33 yards) were productive enough to keep Breida sidelined.
“We didn’t have any long drives — and then the runs that the other two guys did get, they were being effective. It was nothing against Matt, it was just unfortunate how the game worked out for him,” Shanahan said.
Breida fumbled twice twice in a three-play span the previous game against the Atlanta Falcons, including one that was lost in Atlanta territory that may have taken points off the board. But Shanahan indicated those ball security concerns didn’t factor into to Breida not playing against the Rams.
“We planned on Tevin starting. Like the week before, we planned on going to Raheem pretty fast,” Shanahan said. “And then it just never came up that way.”
Shanahan said there were no new injuries coming out of Saturday’s game. Backup safety Tarvarius Moore is going through the early stages of the concussion protocol and is still experiencing symptoms. Moore has been a primary gunner on special teams coverage.
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