San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey had surgery on his torn biceps muscle, and while we do not have a timeline for his return, we do have some new information. Pro Football Talk is reporting surgery showed the tear to be a clean one, which bodes well for his recovery. Matt Maiocco has since reported the same thing. As a comparison, Ian Williams went through a broken ankle, but it would be qualified as an unclean break because he dealt with torn ligaments as well.
The 49ers will have to decide the next step between now and early September. This will depend on whether they think Dorsey can rehab himself back into game shape in time for this season. According to socalisteph, the rehab would be somewhere in the 3-4 month range, give or take. A professional athlete can get back sooner than that, but that gives us a baseline. That timeline would mean Dorsey could conceivably be back sometime in November or December.
If the 49ers do not think he can be in the necessary shape to help late in the season, they could elect to place him on injured reserve, thus ending his season. If they wanted to do that now to clear a roster spot, they would have to give him the waived/injured designation, like they did with Kendall Hunter. If he cleared waivers, he could revert to IR. Or, they could wait until the cut down to 75 players on August 26, and then just place him on IR without him having to clear waivers. Fooch's Update: As pointed out by Poldarn, Dorsey would not need to clear waivers for this because he is a vested veteran (at least 4 years service time).
If they think he can return this season, they have two options. The first is to use the injured reserve with return designation (short term IR). Each team gets one such spot to use the entire season. If the 49ers wanted to use this designation, they can do that starting September 2, after 1 p.m. PT. If they used this roster move, they would clear a spot on the 53-man roster.
Given that you never know how many players will deal with injuries, another option is to keep him on the 53-man roster, and just use on of their seven inactive spots. They could do this if they want to wait and see how injuries develop. This would require the team being comfortable with the depth across the roster since they would not free up a roster spot in the meantime.
It seems like short term IR will end up being the best option, although that will depend entirely on what the doctors and trainers think. If the 49ers could get him back in November or December, that could be a huge talent infusion for the defensive line depth chart. I think it's a solid group, but by the last month of the season, people are worn down. Getting a fresh Dorsey in could really boost them.