The San Francisco 49ers went into Saturday’s 17-9 preseason-opening win over the Dallas Cowboys sitting 28 players, either due to injuries, or in hopes of avoiding injury.
It didn’t work. On Sunday, head coach Kyle Shanahan ran down the litany of injuries San Francisco suffered in the win, injuries which will shape several training camp battles.
Linebacker Elijah Lee went down with a thumb injury, and after undergoing surgery, he’ll be out for two weeks. Defensive lineman D.J. Jones sprained his knee. Running back Raheem Mostert is in concussion protocol. The biggest blow of all: Swing tackle Shon Coleman went down with a broken fibula and dislocated ankle. He underwent surgery on Sunday.
Coleman’s recovery could take months, resulting in the decision to place the four-year veteran on IR, effective on Monday. Coleman, the former Cleveland Brown was in contention for backup role at tackle, behind 13-year veteran Joe Staely and second-year starter Mike McGlinchey.
For the last two years, the 49ers’ swing tackle has been Gary Gilliam, who is still a free agent. He could be an option for San Francisco, and so could rookie Justin Skule, but the 49ers will keep looking.
“There’s a number of guys out there,” Shanahan said. “I know John and his crew upstairs are putting together a list and that stuff we’ve been discussing today. We’ll look at it throughout the night and I think we’ll make a decision on that tomorrow.”
Lee, who was drafted by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 2017 draft, was in the midst of competing for a starting weak-side linebacker spot before Saturday. He was competing with former Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith and rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who had a team-high five tackles against Dallas, and has been having a strong camp.
Jones was forced to exit after spraining his knee, which he said was “fine” after the game per NBC Sports Bay Area.
Mostert, who returned to the field in April from a broken radius and ulna suffered last season, was diagnosed with a concussion in the first half and has been placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He’ll join tight end Garrett Celek, who was diagnosed in December. Both have to complete a series of examinations and tests in order to be cleared for action.
After Mostert went out, Austin Walter and Brandon Wilds — who was signed literally the morning of the game — had to take over as the only two active backs.
“Going through the whole week and watching how the running backs were playing out, it was really important to us to rest [RB Matt] Breida in that game,” Shanahan said. “In order to do that we had to get another guy to go into that game. For Wilds to be available for us just the day before the game and to come in, we didn’t get to practice with him but him and [running backs coach] Bobby [Turner] have been meeting a ton, especially when [RB] Raheem [Mostert] went out pretty early.
With Walter notable to take the entire load, Wilds stepped in and performed well, rushing seven times for 29 yards, and catching one ball for four yards.
“Wilds stepped in and had some really good runs for us, had a good screen and did good on his blitz pick-ups,”Shanahan said. “Really, he did a hell of a job and a credit to him just coming in and being able to go in any situation. It wasn’t like they told me hey you can only call these two plays. When Walter was out and Wilds went in, we were able not to miss a beat and it really helped us at least get through the game and save some other players too.”