By Sam McPherson
It doesn’t seem fair that the San Francisco 49ers have to suffer more injuries in the almost-concluded 2016 regular season, but that is exactly what has happened this week as the team prepares for its final road game of the season on Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams. One offensive starter was placed on the injured reserve, while another will miss his third consecutive game after having started the prior 92 games in a row.
The 49ers placed wide receiver Torrey Smith is the player now on the season-ending IR, due to a concussion suffered against the New York Jets in Week 14. Smith had not caught a pass since Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins. However, and after missing another game earlier in the season, Smith finished the year with just 20 catches, a career-worst output for one of the team’s prominent veteran leaders in the locker room.
Staley Doubtful Again
Meanwhile, tackle Joe Staley’s hamstring problem still isn’t progressing to the point where the S.F. organization wants him on the field, with so little at stake for the team this late in the season. Staley hasn’t played since Week 13, and he was unable to participate at all in practice this week for the 49ers. The longtime offensive line stalwart had been selected to five straight Pro Bowls coming into this season, but Staley wasn’t selected this season with the 49ers struggling so much on offense.
Before missing the Week 14 games against the Jets, Staley had started 92 straight games with San Francisco, dating back to the start of the 2011 season. Overall, he has started every game he’s ever played in as a professional since the 49ers drafted him back in 2007 out of Central Michigan.
More Offensive Line Woes For Niners
In addition to Staley’s injury, the San Francisco offensive line also may have to play without center Marcus Martin. After not participating in practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to an ankle injury, Martin did do some of the workouts Friday on a limited basis. He is questionable for the Rams matchup. Martin started 14 games for the 49ers in 2015, but this season, he’s played in just five games (starting twice).
Defensive Injuries For S.F., Too
Two players on the other side of the ball also appear on the official injury report heading into the Week 16 game in Los Angeles. Cornerback Dontae Johnson is listed as doubtful for the Rams, thanks to a groin problem that kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He was limited on Friday in workouts, but he’s not expected to see the field against the offensively challenged Rams. Also, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey is questionable with ongoing ailments which have plagued him for weeks now. He was limited all week in workouts, but Dorsey probably will play.
Rams Have Few Injuries To Worry About
For Los Angeles, the biggest two injury concerns are on defense, where safety Maurice Alexander and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner were unable to participate fully in practice this week. Alexander is still in concussion protocol, and although he was able to practice in a limited fashion on Thursday, it will be up to the league whether or not he is fully healthy for Saturday’s game against San Francisco. Joyner has an ankle injury which limited him in Wednesday practice, and then he was unable to workout at all on Thursday. He could be a game-time decision for the Rams.
Glenn Dorsey, defensive tackle (knee, ribs)
Marcus Martin, center (ankle)
Dontae Johnson, cornerback (groin)
Joe Staley, tackle (hamstring)