The San Francisco 49ers will release their final injury report shortly, but head coach Kyle Shanahan said that free safety Jimmie Ward will be listed as doubtful for the game. Tight end George Kittle and edge rusher Aaron Lynch will both be listed as questionable.
A player listed as doubtful is believed to have approximately a 25 percent chance of playing. Shanahan said Ward is making progress, and technically has a chance of being active on Sunday, but this suggests the chances are slim.
Lorenzo Jerome and Jaquiski Tartt have been discussed as the top two options to start in place of Ward, but on Friday, Shanahan said Adrian Colbert is also competing. He said he has an idea of who is leading the competition, but won’t reveal it until game time on Sunday. Jerome started the first two preseason games, Tartt started the third game, and Colbert started the fourth. Most notably, in the third game we saw Jerome get in at free safety with the 1s when they went to a dime that. Tartt was then featured in more of a linebacker role.
Kittle is dealing with a hamstring injury, and was limited all three days of practice. Earlier on Friday, Shanahan said he would be surprised if Kittle did not play on Sunday. The tight end depth chart is significantly slimmer than free safety, with Logan Paulsen and Garrett Celek the only other two options on the active roster, and Cole Hikutini on the practice squad.
Lynch is dealing with a back injury and has been limited all week. Shanahan did not provide an update beyond saying he is questionable. The questionable designation is a bit of a catch-all since the NFL got rid of the probable designation. I can honestly say I have no idea if Lynch will play.
Right now, Lynch is backing up Elvis Dumervil and Eli Harold as an edge rusher in nickel downs. Arik Armstead plays end in the base and likely will move inside on passing downs. Lynch could be one of the seven inactives initially, but it’s a mystery for the time being.