The San Francisco 49ers have several injury question marks heading into their Week 7 matchup with the Denver Broncos, and we are starting to get some more speculation on some of them. NFL reporter Adam Caplan tweeted that Jimmie Ward's quadricep injury is a "strain" and he is looking at a potential week-to-week evaluation. This would seem to indicate it is more than just a mild strain. According to earlier media reports, Ward did not participate in practice today.
Caplan did not go into more detail than that, but saying week-to-week instead of day-to-day would not seem to bode well for Ward being available this Sunday against Denver. The 49ers lost Ward to the injury in the third quarter of Monday Night Football. With his departure, Perrish Cox moved over the slot, while Chris Cook and Dontae Johnson moved into the cornerback rotation. Johnson was on the field late in the game to secure the game-clinching pick six.
If Ward cannot play this weekend, the 49ers will have to dig back into their depth. They are facing a Broncos squad led by Peyton Manning and a sizable contingent of weapons in the passing game. That likely mean a whole lot of nickel and dime defense. Given the 49ers limited depth at inside linebacker, this could mean more dime than otherwise.
Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver would remain the 49ers starting cornerbacks, but when they went to nickel or dime, Cox would likely move inside, similar to what the 49ers did with Carlos Rogers the last three years. Chris Cook and Dontae Johnson would get their share of time on the outside in the nickel, and then one of them would work inside when the 49ers go to their dime. Johnson was in that latter role when he snagged his interception.
It is safe to say the 49ers defensive depth will be tested just a little bit. The 49ers will be without NaVorro Bowman, Glenn Dorsey and Aldon Smith. They will likely be without Patrick Willis and Jimmie Ward. Tramaine Brock was reportedly starting to practice again on Wednesday, but I would be surprised if he played on Sunday. This will certainly show us what this depth is capable of against the best in the business.