With the regular season starting this weekend, Wednesday will be the first injury report of the year. Also, teams can protect four players each week from being poached by the practice squad.
The 49ers protected WR Travis Benjamin, QB Nate Sudfeld, and CB Dee Virgin for Week 1. There’s a good chance each player is elevated for Sunday’s game. This could signal Emmanuel Moseley being inactive and Benjamin serving as the punt returner.
In the most expected news of all-time, the 49ers re-signed CB Dontae Johnson to the practice squad and released rookie LB Elijah Sullivan.
The past couple of years haven’t been kind to Norman on the field. In 2019, his last in Washington, Norman was eventually benched, playing in 12 games that year. This version of Norman is far from the player we saw in 2015 (All-Pro) & 2016 when he tallied seven interceptions and two touchdowns.
Norman should be fine and have a good season if the Niners can continue to get home rushing the passer. If the pass rush can’t be as potent as it has been in recent years, then it will be a long season for Norman and the rest of that 49ers defensive backfield.
“I remember when he was coming out, I loved the player too,” Campbell said Monday to reporters. “I know we did when I was in New Orleans.
“I think what makes him unique is his ability to carry the football. Not just run after catch, but his ability to ... these turbo, these fly sweeps — he can do some things out of the backfield as a runner and a route runner and I just think there’s a ton of versatility with him.
“When you can use a guy like that, he’s like a punt returner but on your offense. You get him in space, you can throw him the bubbles, you give him the fly sweeps, you can put him in the backfield, you can hand him the ball a little bit if you want to. But you can also let him run the routes.
The worry: A cornerback position that was a liability with Richard Sherman on the team remains a liability without him.
“Obviously, quarterback is the concern, what happens there, but they need a defensive presence on the back end. Their pass rush is so good. If they are not able to stay healthy on their defensive line, that secondary is going to get exposed. Their corner situations sucked last year. Teams really feasted on them. Are they better? Maybe they make a move for Stephon Gilmore at some point. I think they need someone.”
“This is a defensive line with our style of play, there’s really no starter,” Ford said
“Like with any injury, we’re going to start on a pitch count,” Ford said. “That’s standard for any injury. But my role is to do what they brought me here to do, make big plays. So that’s what I’m going to do.”
“You go about it each play, each game,” Ford said. “We got packages and guys have roles. Whatever your role calls for that game, that week, maybe even that year, that’s what you go out and do.
“As far as plays, it all amounts on the game. You could be out there 30 plays, 40 plays, the play count will always fluctuate.”
In the 17 full regular-season games Bosa played in 2019 plus the first week of last year, San Francisco was sixth in the league in sacks (50) and sacks per drop back (7.7%) while blitzing just 20.1% of the time, tied for fifth lowest in the league. The 2019 Niners finished second in the NFL in defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.
It was enough to make others who played his position and opponents sit up and take notice.
“He has it all,” former All-Pro defensive end Justin Tuck said. “I don’t see a weakness in his game. ... But that guy has a motor, he has talent, he has hands, he obviously has the build and he’s in a system that allows him to thrive. Without the injury, I think he’s on track to be one of those guys we talk about for a long time.”
“Raheem Mostert,” Whitner said on KNBR. “The velocity that he hits the holes with being in this outside-zone, stretch team. The decision making, being decisive enough and the fear that he puts in defenders, it’s invaluable. It’s the reason why George Kittle is open a lot of the times, it’s the reason that receivers are open coming across the middle. It’s because you have so many guys in tune with stopping the run, trying to beat Raheem to the gap, that they lose track of their pass responsibilities. As long as he can continue to gash defenses and get those splash plays, your play-action game is going to work all the time.”