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The 49ers will be without 60 percent of their secondary against the Atlanta Falcons.
That’s because cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring), slot defender K’Waun Williams (concussion) and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) have been ruled out for Sunday’s contest at Levi’s Stadium.
Which means a trio of second-year players, Emmanuel Moseley, D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris, could be in the lineup against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and league’s third-ranked passing offense.
Additionally, San Francisco won’t have defensive end Dee Ford as he’s expected to miss multiple games with a hamstring injury he aggravated against the New Orleans Saints.
Nose tackle D.J. Jones is expected to be placed on injured reserve over the weekend with a high ankle sprain, Kyle Shanahan confirmed.
Jones went into last week’s game dealing with a high-ankle sprain from the previous game in Baltimore. Then he wound up suffering a high-ankle sprain to his other leg in New Orleans. He managed to play 33 percent of the snaps, which gave the team optimism the injury wouldn’t be long term.
But testing on the ankle after the team returned to the Bay Area indicated otherwise. Shanahan said it would be an eight-week injury. It was a similar injury to one suffered by general manager John Lynch during his playing career, Shanahan said.
“He finished the game on (the injury) and would probably be alright. And the next day he got up and he couldn’t walk,” he said. “So sometimes the adrenaline just goes to where he can go through it. But (Jones) definitely can’t play with it.”
Jones will be the fourth player put on IR this week joining center Weston Richburg (torn right patellar tendon), receiver Marquise Goodwin (toe, knee) and tight end Garrett Celek (back).
Jones will be replaced on the active roster by second-year pro Kentavius Street, who would be making his NFL debuting after missing all of 2018 due to a pre-draft ACL tear. Complications from the injury after participating in training camp landed Street on injured reserve to begin the season. The defensive lineman has been practicing for three weeks.
“It’s been real good. I know how hard he’s worked to get out there,” Shanahan said. “I think each week, he’s gotten more of his legs under him. He’s been ready to go. But to get into football practice and everything, holding his gaps and stuff, looked in shape, healthy from the beginning. Now getting these weeks of practice, he’ll definitely try to give it a go this week and he’s getting his opportunity.”
On Ford, the NFL Networked reported the team was expecting a four-week absence and a likely return for the divisional round of the playoffs, should San Francisco make it that far. Ford on Friday refuted that timeline.
“Four weeks? We are day by day right now,” Ford said. “Just trying to get better. Just don’t want it to be a recurring thing.”
“It all depends on the progression. We’re really going to listen to it, we’re really going to pay attention to how it’s healing. Football is just a tough for a hamstring especially with it being isolated in all these weird positions.”
The 49ers are likely going to go with a committee to replace Ford and Jones going forward.
Sheldon Day is likely to replace Jones, while Solomon Thomas could get more work at defensive tackle in passing situations. Thomas should also see his snaps on the outside increase with Ford out. Another option to replace Jones, Jullian Taylor, was ruled out for the second straight game with an elbow injury.