Kwon Alexander

49ers' injuries continue to pile up as NFL playoffs rapidly approach

49ers' injuries continue to pile up as NFL playoffs rapidly approach

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.

Cornerback 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 strained his right hamstring 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 and 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. He sustained a significant high-ankle sprain in the win over the Saints. 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 tearing a 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 aggravating the back injury that required offseason surgery. He 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 and had zero 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 after posting 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 throughout the season.

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

CB Jason Verrett: He appeared in one game before going on IR 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 IR on Aug. 22 with a torn ACL.

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

Kyle Shanahan wants 49ers receivers to visualize dropping passes

Kyle Shanahan wants 49ers receivers to visualize dropping passes

SANTA CLARA – Coach Kyle Shanahan wants his receivers to remember what it’s like to drop a pass.

He actually wants them during the course of the week to visualize dropping passes.

“Don’t sit there and just picture everything is going to go perfect this week,” Shanahan said. “Picture yourself having another drop again. Know how bad that feels and then think of how you’re going to react to that because if you go out there being, ‘Man I’ve got to be perfect this week and I have another drop,’ you’re going to go into a shell the rest of the game, and we’re going to need you.”

The 49ers had a number of dropped passes on Monday night in the team’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. Depending on the varying degrees of dropped passes, the 49ers failed to latch onto anywhere from five to nine catchable throws from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Young receiver Kendrick Bourne had four receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. He also had a two-point conversion catch in the fourth quarter. But Bourne had two critical drops – one of which turned into an interception and the other would have resulted in a first down inside the Seattle 10-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Injured linebacker Kwon Alexander consoled Bourne in the locker room following the game.

“Why are you thinking about the ones you dropped?” he asked. “Why aren’t you thinking about the ones you caught?”

Bourne said what bothered him the most was how important his drops were at the time in which they occurred.

“I feel what you’re saying, bro,” Bourne said of Alexander’s support. “But the impact of those plays was what was getting at me.

“Both of them almost got picked the same way. That’s what was really chewing at me. If it was just a drop, I probably wouldn’t have been that upset. But the momentum, the playing coming at me, just knowing what the result could’ve been, that’s why it’s hard for me.”

Shanahan’s point in advising the team’s receivers to think about dropped passes is to prepare them to quickly move past the disappointment so that one bad play does not lead to another and another.

“People do have drops,” Shanahan said. “We have good receivers who don’t drop it a ton. In terms of drops, they had a bad game last week and you’ve got to go out there and not think about that. Every game is a new week.

”I know the first one, if you do have a first one in this game, it’ll be huge and everyone will think about last week, but that will affect how you play. You can’t worry about that stuff. Our guys have good hands. You can’t let one drop lead to another. You’ve got to go out there and be mentally very strong with it.”

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch in Week 11: Jimmy Garoppolo must step up vs. Cardinals]

Shanahan believes Bourne’s hands are as good as any receiver in the league. Where Bourne struggles, he said, is when he is wide open and begins to think about what he’s going to do after the catch.

“When I’m that open, I tend to not focus on the ball, because I know I’m going to catch it,” Bourne said. “That’s why I’m glad it happened to me now, because now when I get out there, I’ll look it in when I’m wide open. Those are the hardest ones, when I’m wide open. That on me, not being locked in on catching the ball and being too confident.”

Bourne said he believes the drops that happened on Monday can serve as a helpful reminder for him to avoid such mistakes later in the season when the importance of the games magnifies.

“It’s a reminder and it’s humbling,” he said.

Fred Warner doing it all for 49ers' defense in Kwon Alexander's absence

Fred Warner doing it all for 49ers' defense in Kwon Alexander's absence

SANTA CLARA – Not only did the 49ers lose linebacker Kwon Alexander to a season-ending injury in Week 9, but linebacker Fred Warner did not play well that night against the Arizona Cardinals.

Warner responded Monday night with what 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh described as the best game of his two-year NFL career.

“I thought he was just on it,” Saleh said. “He played violent.”

Warner recorded 10 tackles, including the first two sacks of his career, and forced a fumble that DeForest Buckner scooped up and returned for a touchdown. He became the first player with that stat line since Chicago defensive lineman Akiem Hicks on Dec. 4, 2016.

Warner did it all for the 49ers’ defense in the club’s 27-24 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night at Levi's Stadium while taking on more responsibility with rookie Dre Greenlaw taking over for Alexander.

“That was really cool to watch, just him pick up the slack that we lost from Kwon and play with that much passion,” 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa said. “It’s fun to have him on the field.

“It was usually him calling the plays and Kwon being the energy guy. And now it’s him doing both. He calls the play. He gets us lined up. And he brings the energy, so he’s really important.”

Warner displayed his ability to rush the passer, which is a new look for the 49ers’ defense. Saleh said he believes the threat of Warner coming on blitzes will prove beneficial to the team’s defensive linemen.

“The most important thing for us is, by them having to account for him, especially using a lineman, is now you’ve got your four D-linemen in one-on-one situations, our four horses,” Saleh said. “If they’re in one-on-one situations, you’re pretty confident that one of them is going to win. They’ve got to bring in extra people to protect and now it’s are we blitzing or are we rushing four?

“It’s just a cat-and-mouse game. When you have to account for him, you’re freeing up your four horses in the one-on-one situations.”

[RELATED: Lynch frustrated by 49ers' receivers drops but won't panic]

Warner and the 49ers return to action against the Cardinals on Sunday at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers' defense had its worst game on Oct. 31 in a 28-25 victory over Arizona, a game in which Warner had two missed tackles. Saleh said he expects more performances from Warner like the one he had against the Seahawks.

"He had a very good game and now it goes back to consistency being the truest measure of performance. He’s got to go stack it up and do it again," Saleh said.