Before it was reported that 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his pectoral muscle and would miss the season, coach Kyle Shanahan provided no concrete injury updates on Alexander or tight end George Kittle, who were both injured during the 49ers' 28-25 win over the Cardinals on Thursday night.
Both Kittle and Alexander are having MRIs on Friday to determine the extent of their injuries sustained Thursday. Kittle took a helmet hit directly to his right knee early in the game but was able to return, playing 51 of the offense’s 74 snaps.
“I know it was scary,” Shanahan said. “But the fact that they felt good enough with him coming back into the game, just talking to everyone last night I’m feeling pretty optimistic about Kittle. I know he played through a lot of stuff. It’s going to be tough on him this week. But I feel pretty good that it’s not going to be a longer term thing and hopefully, we will be able to get him back this week.”
Alexander sustained a chest injury in the second half and was immediately ruled out of the game. He has added not only veteran leadership to the defense, but also a substantial amount of speed.
“Kwon has been great for us this year on the field and as a leader,” Shanahan said. “I’m a lot more nervous about that MRI coming back today. I’m hoping for the best but I’m a lot more nervous about that one.”
With Alexander missing the season, rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw will be the player to step into his role. The 49ers have been able to adjust to several starters being out due to injury, but the rookie has big shoes to fill, as Alexander’s presence has been very evident during games as well as practice.
“You guys can feel it,” Shanahan said. “I think everyone who’s watching can feel it and our team feels it. That’s how he is on game day that’s how he is on the practice field. The speed he plays with he’s been a great addition for us. It’s going to be a tough loss."
With Shanahan and the 49ers' worst fears coming true, it'll be next man up as the 49ers look to continue their undefeated start to the season.