The San Francisco 49ers are officially into preparations for their Week 1 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. The team will not issue its first practice participation report until Wednesday, but we got a hint of things to come on Monday.
Kyle Shanahan ran an hour-long non-padded practice, with the session open to media for the individual portion. Defensive back Jimmie Ward was spotted working on a side field as he rehabs a quad strain suffered against the Indianapolis Colts. Linebacker Malcolm Smith was spotted working on a side field as well.
There is no word on Smith’s injury, but Brock Coyle and Fred Warner were handling starting linebacker duties due to that and Reuben Foster’s suspension. If Smith can’t go on Sunday, Elijah Lee becomes the only reserve linebacker available behind Coyle, Warner, and Mark Nzeocha. Jaquiski Tartt could conceivably drop down into a linebacker role in an emergency, but the pickings are otherwise slim.
With Ward sidelined, the 49ers’ secondary depth will be incredibly young. Greg Mabin and Tarvarius Moore would be the team’s two backup outside cornerbacks. D.J. Reed would serve as the backup at both free safety and nickel back. Antone Exum is taking over as backup strong safety with the decision to move Marcell Harris to injured reserve.
The 49ers defense enters an important season in its development, and it is not exactly getting off to the best start with these injuries. Considering the kinds of weapons Minnesota will roll out this weekend, it’s going to make for an even tougher opener.