The San Francisco 49ers open OTA this past Thursday provided the media with a chance to see which injured players are participating in practice, and which are in the midst of the rehab process. We saw that Ian Williams was back, but his defensive line running mate, Glenn Dorsey, was still sidelined.
There was initially no word on what was up, but it turns out Eric Branch had a useful quotation from Dorsey. He simply said, "I'm close", when asked if his biceps injury was fully healed. He suffered the injury last August, and we had a preliminary expectation that he would miss upwards of four months. The 49ers placed him on the injured reserve with a return designation, with the hope that he could get back and help in a playoff push. The 49ers struggled in 2014, but the team still activated him to the 53-man roster in Week 12. He was listed as inactive Weeks 12, 13 and 14, and then the team placed him on season-ending IR for the final three weeks of the season.
I would have thought Dorsey would be good to go at this point, but clearly the biceps injury was a little more serious than we initially thought. Whatever the case, with two months until training camp gets going, there is no reason to rush him back. Getting him to 100 percent would be huge for a defensive line that will likely feature significant rotation. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald played a huge chunk of snaps over the last four years, but with their respective departures, the team will be looking for ways to fill the void.
There is a lot of young talent alongside Dorsey and Darnell Dockett. With Dorsey, Dockett and Ian Williams all coming off injuries, it makes sense the team will rotate players in and out. It will help keep the line fresh, which could make up for the lack of the normal veteran presence. The 49ers defense across the board could be looking at even more rotations. The extensive cornerback depth chart is an obvious one, but even the potential to see Jaquiski Tartt play some linebacker in a big nickel or dime defense could make for more rotation.
It would be a bit different from what we were used to under Vic Fangio. The team's primary substitutions came when they switched from base to nickel and dime. Now we might see it all the more frequently.