The San Francisco 49ers lost another started to injury, with free safety Adrian Colbert suffering a high ankle sprain in the team’s Week 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers placed him on injured reserve Monday evening, which coincided with the re-signing of free agent quarterback Tom Savage.
Colbert has dealt with a couple injuries this season, and when he has gone down, rookie D.J. Reed has moved into the lineup in his place. Reed has played some slot corner as well, but the vast majority of his defensive snaps have been at free safety.
On Monday, head coach Kyle Shanahan said that Reed would get the first chance at the free safety. However, he also said DB Jimmie Ward would get an opportunity once his hamstring is healed. Ward suffered a hamstring injury in the 49ers loss in Green Bay, and was a DNP all week in practice. The team returns to practice on Wednesday, at which point they’ll have a better idea of where Ward is for this week.
Colbert got his opportunity last season as a rookie due to multiple injuries across the safety depth chart. Reed will likely be starting this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, and has a chance to build on a solid start thus far. He’s made his share of mistakes, but PFF has graded him out well in coverage. Shanahan had this to say about Reed’s work thus far when he’s played the free safety position.
“When he’s had his opportunity, D.J. plays very hard, he goes in there, he runs and hits. He’s done some good things. He’s still a rookie, needs to play more. I know he’ll have some learning curves as he does that, but the game is not too big for him and he’s a guy we do believe in.”
Reed has already gotten his feet wet, so he would not be going into Sunday’s game blind. The 49ers face a Cardinals pass offense that is among the worst in the league thus far. Head coach Steve Wilks fired his offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich. It’s hard to tell what this will mean for the 49ers game. The Cardinals passing attack cannot perform much worse than it has thus far, but how much it will improve is uncertain at this point.