49ers

Jimmie Ward has successful return in 49ers' preseason game vs. Chiefs

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USATSI

Jimmie Ward has successful return in 49ers' preseason game vs. Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While all eyes were on 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, there was a guy named Jimmie who made a successful return, too.

Defensive back Jimmie Ward, out since May 23 due to a fractured collarbone, started at free safety for the 49ers on Saturday night and also played nickel back in the 49ers’ 27-17 preseason victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, highlighted by Garoppolo's impressive return to the stadium where he sustained a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3 of last season.

Ward played 25 snaps on offense and saw action on two plays on special teams.

“Jimmie is a football player,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It doesn’t matter whether he’s hurt or how long he’s been out, if you allow him to go, he’s going. He’s been that way in practice all week. I know we threw him out there (Saturday), and he was able to play both nickel and free safety, and from what I saw, he played pretty well.”

Ward made three tackles and had good pass coverage down the field on a play in which Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman was penalized for offensive pass interference. Ward is in competition with Tarvarius Moore for the starting job at free safety.

“The good thing about Jimmie, and it has also been tough for him throughout his whole career, is sometimes he is the best or second-best player at every single position depending on what personnel is out there on offense,” Shanahan said. “You have an option to put him out there in a lot of places.”

Ward said the most difficult part about returning to action was his conditioning. He had the shield removed from his facemask and at one point took out his mouthpiece to allow him to breathe more freely.

Ward continued to take part in meetings while he recovered from his latest injury. He has also been participating in walkthroughs for several weeks. His knowledge of the system is his biggest advantage over Moore.

“I feel like it helps to know the whole defense because I’m in so many different parts,” Ward said. “Our base defense is cover 3, so I’m learning really what the linebackers do and sometimes what the D-end does, and everything with all the fits. So it works out perfectly when I’m moving around.”

Ward has missed 29 games in his five-year career due to a variety of injuries. His past two seasons ended due to broken forearms. But Ward said remaining positive has not been difficult for him because he shields himself from fans who often complain about or mock his injuries.

“I don’t get on social media,” he said. “That’s where all of the negative comments come from, so I didn’t get on social media and I listen to my loved ones. They always give me positive feedback.”

Ward played every snap while the 49ers' first-team defense was on the field. Moore entered the game in nickel situations at free safety with Ward moving to nickel back. The team’s primarily nickel back is K’Waun Williams, who is recovering from a knee procedure.

[RELATED: Jimmy G takes 'another step in right direction' for 49ers]

“He’s a ballhawk and that’s why he’s on the field because he’s one of our best 11,” Ward said of Moore. “So that’s why I’m playing nickel. They’re trying to get their best 11 on the field.”

When asked if he considers himself one of the 49ers’ best 11, Ward answered, “I don’t know, but I was on the field.”

George Kittle's strong run-blocking skills for 49ers proved by stat

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USATSI

George Kittle's strong run-blocking skills for 49ers proved by stat

"George Kittle, not really a blocker ... "

We didn't say this, but FS1's Doug Gottlieb sure did. And he heard the comments from his statement essentially saying he didn't know what he was talking about.

If you needed numbers to back it up, we have that covered for you courtesy of Next Gen Stats:

He certainly has a presence, and the numbers show that. 

Kyle Shanahan has praised Kittle's run-blocking game before which only adds to the evidence proving sometimes, it's best to watch him continue in his greatness -- no comments necessary.

[RELATED: Kittle was key success in run game vs. Ravens]

To add to it, in the 49ers' Week 13 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the tight end received an overall 72.9 grade from Pro Football Focus and a 78.1 run-blocking grade.

That was the best grade of the season from anyone.

A complete list of the 49ers' injury situation with three games remaining

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MATT MAIOCCO

A complete list of the 49ers' injury situation with three games remaining

SANTA CLARA – Three front-line starters who have contributed to the 49ers’ 11-2 start have been lost for the remainder of the season.

And the club is expected to be without two other starters and at least two other rotational players for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons at Levi’s Stadium.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said on a Thursday appearance on KNBR-680 that nose tackle D.J. Jones will be going on season-ending injured reserve. The 49ers are likely to activate defensive lineman Kentavius Street off injured reserve to take Jones’ spot on the team’s 53-man roster.

The 49ers have three games remaining in the regular season before heading into the playoffs, and they will have to rely on their depth to get through a time when their depth chart is being tested.

Cornrerback K'Waun Williams did not practice on Thursday as he is working through the concussion protocol, but he has a chance to be able to play Sunday.

Here’s a look at the 49ers players who are not expected to play Sunday but could be available at some point before the end of the regular season and playoffs:

CB Richard Sherman

Cornerback Richard Sherman sustained a right hamstring strain in the 49ers’ win in New Orleans. Shanahan said on KNBR that Sherman will not play against the Falcons. Sherman appeared to be striding well in rehab work on the practice field Thursday. Sherman said he expects to miss only one game. Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley will be the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks against Atlanta.

SS Jaquiski Tartt

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt will miss his second consecutive game due to fractured ribs, Shanahan said on KNBR. The target for Tartt to return, if needed, is Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks. Second-year player Marcell Harris will make his second start in place of Tartt.

DE Dee Ford

The 49ers want Ford to be ready for the playoffs after returning too soon from quadricep and hamstring injuries. Ford missed two games with the injury, then aggravated the condition while playing just four snaps against New Orleans. Ford is tied for third on the team with 6.5 sacks. The 49ers hope to achieve a first-round bye in the playoffs to buy him another week of rehab.

DT Jullian Taylor

Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor sustained ligament damage to his right elbow in the Week 13 game against the Baltimore Ravens. He will not be available to play Sunday at Levi’s Stadium but could be back as early as Week 16 against the Los Angeles Rams, if he is needed. He should be OK for the playoffs.

* * *

Here is the list of players who have seen action in more than a handful of games during the regular season who have been placed on season-ending injured reserve:

NT D.J. Jones

The loss of nose tackle Jones, who is ticketed to IR, is a big blow to the club. Jones started all 11 games in which he appeared and had turned into a force in the middle of the 49ers’ defensive line. Jones sustained a significant high-ankle sprain in the 49ers’ win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Sheldon Day, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are among the players who can see action at nose tackle.

LB Kwon Alexander

Linebacker Kwon Alexander was placed on IR on Nov. 5 after sustaining a torn pectoral. He underwent season-ending surgery. Alexander started the first eight games of the season and recorded 34 tackles, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Rookie Dre Greenlaw has taken over at his position.

C Weston Richburg

Center Weston Richburg sustained a torn patellar tendon in his right knee on Sunday in New Orleans. He started the first 13 games of the season and was playing at a high level in both the run game and in pass protection. Veteran Ben Garland will take over as the team’s starting center.

DL Ronald Blair

Ronald Blair played in the first nine games of the season and was filling a significant role as a rotational edge rusher in nickel situations. He had three sacks on the season before sustaining an injury on Nov. 11 while chasing down Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Blair was the team’s third defensive end in their sub package behind Nick Bosa and Ford.

TE Garrett Celek

Tight end Garrett Celek went on IR after an aggravation of the back injury that required offseason surgery. Celek did not look healthy upon his return to action on Nov. 11 after missing the first eight games while on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He had to pass receptions in his five games. Rookie Daniel Helm was added to the roster, joining other tight ends George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo.

WR Marquise Goodwin

Marquise Goodwin went on IR this week with foot and knee issues. Goodwin had fallen out of the team’s receiver rotation. He had just 12 receptions for 186 yards with one touchdown in nine games. He started the team’s first six games of the season. The 49ers re-signed Jordan Matthews to be the team's sixth wide receiver.

* * *

Here are the other 49ers on injured reserve:

DE Damontre Moore: He appeared in two games before sustaining a fractured forearm. The 49ers signed him Nov. 13 to replace Blair.

WR Trent Taylor: Had foot surgery in August and experienced complications to prevent his return this season.

WR Jalen Hurd: Third-round pick who caught two TD passes in his only preseason game before experiencing a stress reaction in his back and setbacks through the course of the season.

RB Jerick McKinnon: He missed his second consecutive season due to knee issues from a torn ACL in training camp of 2018.

CB Jason Verrett: He appeared in one game before going on injured reserve on Oct. 3 due to a knee issue.

OT Shon Coleman: He sustained a fractured fibula and dislocated right ankle in the exhibition opener.

CB Tim Harris: A seventh-round draft pick, Harris went on IR due to a groin injury.

WR Shawn Poindexter: The 49ers placed the undrafted rookie from Arizona on injured reserve on Aug. 22 with a torn ACL

OL Andrew Lauderdale: The 49ers placed him on injured reserve on Sept. 1.