On the injury front, there are no real surprises, but some cause for concern.
Josh Norman will be out for Sunday’s game. Norman is the best cornerback on the team, and some would argue the best player on the defense. His absence will provide the opportunity for the Niners to try to be more successful in the passing game, but Washington is deep at corner, and the dropoff isn’t likely to be too severe. Baushaud Breeland is a fourth year veteran, and two second-year players, Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar have played well. Third-round rookie Fabian Moreau has played well in limited snaps this season, and coaches and fans expect him to play well as his time on the field is likely to increase this week.
The greater concern will be at left tackle, where starter Trent Williams is questionable, and the backup swing tackle Ty Nsekhe is still recovering from surgery following an injury in the Raiders game. Filling in for Nsekhe (and starting if Williams is unable to go) is TJ Clemmings, a third year player who was drafted by Minnesota and who started 31 games before being cut at the end of training camp this season. Gruden talked about Clemmings in his press conference this week and said that TJ has taken all the snaps at left tackle in practice. In Gruden’s words, any player is a drop off in talent from Trent Williams, whom Gruden describes as “the best left tackle in the NFL”, but Jay said the team is confident in Clemmings. For what it’s worth, Trent Williams has a history of playing when he is listed on the injury report as questionable.
Two players are doubtful: RB Rob Kelley and S Deshazor Everett. Gruden said that the team would not bring Fish Smithson up off the practice squad to replace the backup safety, and that CB Joshua Holsey, who normally plays just special teams, could see the field if needed to help cover for Everett’s absence.
Kelley is Washington’s lead back, and he will be replaced by Samaje Perine, with Chris Thompson continuing his normal role as third down back. Non-Washington fans (since the Raiders game) seem to expect Thompson to get more touches with Kelley injured, but that’s not the case. The fourth running back, Mack Brown, who is normally inactive, will be active on Sunday and will spell Perine as needed. Many fans (myself included) think that Mack Brown has looked the best of the three ‘power’ backs (Kelly, Perine, Brown) so the running game should be unaffected by Kelley’s absence.
Washington final injury report
Out: CB Josh Norman (rib - DNP, DNP, DNP), T Ty Nsekhe (core muscle - DNP, DNP, DNP)
Doubtful: S Deshazor Everett (hamstring - DNP, DNP, DNP), RB Rob Kelley (ankle - DNP, DNP, DNP)
Questionable: T Trent Williams (knee - DNP, DNP, DNP)