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San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman isn’t all that concerned about the hamstring injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
“I could play in this game if we had to have it,” Sherman said Thursday. “(Coach Kyle Shanahan) and them are more cautious than I am.”
Sherman said he asked the coaching staff for a couple days off so he could deal with a Grade 2 hamstring strain sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints.
NFL Network reported this week Sherman could miss multiple games, though Sherman said he expects to return the following week Dec. 21 against the Rams after looking spry during his on-field workout Thursday.
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“I feel great today, I ran 19 miles an hour, 20 miles an hour today (at practice),” he said.
Sherman pointed out he dealt with a similar injury last season Week 2 against the Lions that he played through in Kansas City, though he exited that game at halftime after it quickly became a blowout.
It’s unclear how the 49ers would replace Sherman on Sunday because of injuries elsewhere. They could be without 60 percent of their secondary against Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ third-ranked passing offense.
Standout slot cornerback K’Waun Williams has missed the first two practices of the week while going through the concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter.
Which means Emmanuel Moseley, who replaced Ahkello Witherspoon at outside cornerback earlier this season, could be moved to the slot, allowing second-year pro D.J. Reed to play outside. Though Reed could also play in the slot. He started two games there late last season.
“We’re working through that one. That’ll present itself on Sunday,” defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said.
Sherman and Williams have been invaluable to San Francisco’s No. 2-ranked pass defense. And they might not be the only members of the secondary absent against Atlanta. Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt worked out Thursday but was moving far more gingerly than Sherman as he deals with a fracture to his ribs.
Marcell Harris would get his second straight start if Tartt can’t go. Harris struggled Sunday to contain Saints tight ends as they scored their first three touchdowns. Harris was also tabbed with a team-high four missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.
Additionally, defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) missed practice again Thursday as it’s likely his absence spans multiple games.
Despite the spate of injuries, Sherman is confident the 49ers have the depth to maintain the defense’s high level while key players heal.
“If we got 11 out there, I would expect us to uphold that standard. I think we have a tremendous amount of depth. I trust the guys,” Sherman said. “So no, I don’t think this small bit of attrition will be the determining factor. I think we still have a standard that every guy needs uphold and those guys will do it.”
INJURIES PILING UP FOR STRETCH RUN
San Francisco entered the game in New Orleans relatively healthy, getting Sherman back from a knee sprain, Ford from a hamstring injury and left tackle Joe Staley after finger surgery.
But things are going in the other direction following Sunday’s physical affair.
The team already placed three players on injured reserve this week — center Weston Richburg (torn patellar tendon), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (toe, knee) and tight end Garrett Celek (back).
A fourth could be coming: defensive tackle D.J. Jones, who sprained both ankles in the past two weeks. The most recent is the most serious.
Shanahan on KNBR radio Thursday said it’s a high ankle sprain for the talented nose tackle and that secondary opinions indicate he would have to be shut down for the year.
It would be a significant loss as he’s the team only true nose tackle on the active roster. His production has gone under the radar as Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner have received acclaim for their strong seasons.
The 49ers would likely turn to Sheldon Day at nose tackle to avoid offsetting other positions, though the team has indicated Armstead, Buckner and Solomon Thomas could also play nose tackle. One of Jones’ top backups, Jullian Taylor, appears unlikely to play with an elbow injury.
The team may also activate Kentavius Street, who would be getting the first action of his career after missing his rookie campaign recovering from a pre-draft ACL tear before he was picked in the fourth round. Street had surgery in August after complications arose from his recovery and began the season injured reserve, though his practice window was opened earlier this month.
Saleh had high praise for Street, who’s one of the team’s most impressive players in the weight room, after watching him during practice in recent weeks.
“His drill work when he’s out there in individual (drills), he’s probably the most impressive D-Lineman of the group, he really is. He is very powerful, all of it translates,” said Saleh.
▪ 49ers who didn’t practice Thursday: Celek, Ford (quadricep, hamstring), Jones (ankle), Sherman (hamstring), Tartt (ribs), Taylor (elbow) and Williams (concussion).
Receiver Dante Pettis (knee) was a full participant for the second straight day.