By Sam McPherson
The San Francisco 49ers are 1-12, and their offense is one of the worst in the NFL for both points scored and yards gained. That offense will go to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to face the Atlanta Falcons without two of its starters, in all likelihood. Wide receiver Torrey Smith is out with a concussion, while offensive lineman Joe Staley is doubtful with a hamstring issue. For a team that doesn’t scare defenses, it is a tough challenge for the 49ers to head into the lair of a playoff-bound team without its best possible lineup.
On the bright side, these are the only two players officially listed on the injury report for Week 15, meaning the rest of the active roster is ready to go. While Smith and Staley both missed all workouts this week, every other player on the roster with a minor injury concern practiced fully on Friday. The Falcons are tied for the lead in the NFC South Division with an 8-5 record, and San Francisco would love to deal a blow to its former division rival as Atlanta tries to clinch a postseason berth.
Smith Suffered Concussion Against Jets
Even though he’s having his least productive season as a pro, Smith is a veteran leader on the offense, as evidenced by his nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award last week. He saw one pass come his way last week before exiting the game in New York with his injury. It was the third time in 12 games this season that Smith was held without a catch by the opposition, and after leading the NFL last year in yards-per-reception average (20.1), he has just 20 catches on the season in 2016. San Francisco is dead last in the league this year in total passing yardage.
Staley Unlikely To Return To Lineup
He’s made five straight Pro Bowls, and even though the 49ers offense is poor this year, chances are Staley will earn the same accolade this year. However, he probably will miss his second straight game this weekend after not missing a game since 2010. Staley had started 92 straight regular-season games for San Francisco before missing the Jets game last week at home. That kind of reliability and talent is hard to place on the offensive line of a team that struggles so much on offense. The 49ers offense managed okay last week without Staley on the field, but the team would much rather have him out there if possible.
Julio Jones Out For Atlanta
The 49ers defense is catching a break with Falcons WR Julio Jones missing the game this weekend, thanks to a toe injury. He is one of the best WRs in the NFL, but he will miss his second straight game as the Atlanta organization is choosing to rest him against a poor San Francisco defense in hopes that Jones will be recovered in time for a postseason run. However, WR Mohamed Sanu, who also missed last week’s game in Los Angeles with a groin injury, will suit up for the 49ers on Sunday. Clearly, the Falcons don’t fear the 49ers defense enough to rush Jones back into live action, and they believe Sanu will be enough for the offense to get the victory.
Joe Staley, offensive tackle (hamstring)
Torrey Smith, wide receiver (concussion)