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49ers who will benefit from other injuries

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The 49ers return to practice, and the injury report is something to watch.

The San Francisco 49ers have a lengthy injury report, but by all accounts they’ve avoided anything major. That could change, but for the time being, they are in good shape for Week 1 of the regular season.

That being said, they will be missing several players when they return to practice Sunday morning. They are hoping to have Joshua Garnett, Jonathan Cooper, Trent Taylor, and Brock Coyle practicing, but we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. From their Thursday injuries though, some opportunities will arise for players further down the depth chart. Here’s a list of notable injured players and what it means for practice and potentially the Texans game next week.

LB Eli Harold — knee — day-to-day

Harold’s injury turned out to be a knee contusion, and he stands a decent chance of playing on Thursday. If he misses practice, Dekoda Watson and Pita Taumoepenu will get more reps further up the SAM linebacker depth chart.

LB Fred Warner — chest — day-to-day
LB Malcolm Smith — hamstring — week-to-week

Warner suffered a chest injury and ended up missing the preseason opener. Kyle Shanahan said he was still day-to-day, and they’ll see on Sunday if he’s ready to get back into pads. Meanwhile, Smith suffered a hamstring injury early in the preseason opener and Shanahan said he would not play this week, but could be back the following week for the Colts game.

Reuben Foster made it through the preseason opener fine, but the second inside linebacker role is up in the air. Coyle will get more reps this week, and I’d imagine he will get some time next to Foster. Warner could as well if he gets over the chest injury. Otherwise, Korey Toomer and/or Elijah Lee can expect to see plenty of work with the 1s this week.

DL Arik Armstead — hamstring — week-to-week
DL Solomon Thomas — concussion — in protocol, return depends on symptoms

Shanahan was quick to rule Armstead out this week. Thomas is going through the concussion protocol, which means he has to be asymptomatic first at rest and then after a workout. Conceivably he could be cleared through it by Monday or Tuesday, but given that this is the preseason, the team could very well take its time getting him back.

We’ll know more about Thomas’ status at Sunday’s practice, but if he is unable to go, that coupled with Armstead’s absence means plenty more first team snaps for Jullian Taylor. Ronald Blair also benefits as a versatile inside/outside threat, and Sheldon Day could get more sub-package interior work. With Thomas and Armstead both potentially out, we might also see more opportunities for DeForest Buckner on the edge.

CB K’Waun Williams — ankle — week-to-week
CB Richard Sherman — hamstring — likely out for Texans game

Shanahan quickly ruled out Williams for this week. When asked about Sherman, Shanahan said the veteran would likely push to go, but Shanahan said he’d be “very surprised if [Sherman] played this week.”

Against Dallas, D.J. Reed started at nickel in place of Williams, while Jimmie Ward started in place of Sherman. Greg Mabin and Tyvis Powell were the first cornerbacks off the bench outside, and Tarvarius Moore and Tarvarus McFadden got work after that. Since this depth chart would not see any shake-up due to injury, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes due to performance in the first preseason game.

OT Garry Gilliam — concussion — in protocol, return depends on symptoms

Like Thomas, Gilliam’s status depends on how he progresses through the protocol. His injury resulted in a long night for Darrell Williams at left tackle. Gilliam had replaced Joe Staley after the first series, and was then replaced by Williams. On the right side, Mike McGlinchey was replaced by Andrew Lauderdale, who finished out the night. With starters getting more reps this coming Saturday, it will be interesting to see if anybody but Williams and Lauderdale play the book-end tackles after the starters.

TE George Kittle — shoulder — out remainder of preseason, back for Week 1
TE Cole Wick — knee — day-to-day

The 49ers appear to have avoided a bad injury with Kittle’s shoulder. It is concerning considering a weak shoulder could lead to an aggravation, but it’s better than him fracturing a bone or tearing a ligament. Meanwhile, Wick missed the opener with a knee injury and like Warner and Coyle, the team wants to see what he can do on Sunday before moving forward.

Garrett Celek is the lead tight end in Kittle’s absence, with Cole Hikutini as the No. 2. Hikutini, Ross Dwelley, and Wes Saxton all benefit from the tight end injuries. Hikutini seems to be the guy who will be the No. 3 tight end, but Kittle’s injury opens the door for him to prove he is worth more than just a special teams role. Dwelley and Saxton could impress but I suspect are playing for practice squad spots at this point.

RB Matt Breida — shoulder — out remainder of preseason, back for Week 1

Another separated shoulder, another bullet hopefully dodged. Raheem Mostert was the team’s third running back, with Joe Williams then Jeremy McNichols coming in. Mostert looked better than Williams, but also had a fumble. I suspect it remains Mostert, Williams, McNichols (maybe some Jeff Wilson), but running back is another position where I am curious to see if anybody makes a move this week.