Falcons Elevate 2 Defenders Ahead of 49ers Contest

Falcons elevate two vs. 49ers

Getty Fabian Moreau #22, Darren Hall #34 and Erik Harris #23 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrate after a big stop vs. Jacksonville.

On Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons officially placed starting safety Erik Harris on injured reserve ahead of Week 15’s matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

In a corresponding move, the team activated inside linebacker Dorian Etheridge and free safety Shawn Williams from the practice squad.

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Harris Underwent Successful Season-Ending Surgery

After racking up 64 tackles and 8 passes defended through 13 games this season, Harris was forced to undergo season-ending surgery on his pectoral, which was a success.

It looks like the Falcons will turn to second-year safety Jaylinn Hawkins, rookie Richie Grant and Williams to step into the vacant role alongside strong safety Duron Harman.

“It’s going to be tough, obviously, with his veteran leadership, his play, his personality, just everything that Eric brought to the table,” Harmon said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It won’t just be one guy that replaces what he does. It’s going to be multiple guys, but we have full faith in Jaylinn, Richie (Grant) and Shawn (Williams) to go out there do their job at a high level and just not have this defense miss a beat.”

Hawkins, who will get the most reps, has played in five games this season (2 starts), tallying 16 tackles (8 solo), 2 interceptions and 3 passes defended.

“The guys are just going to have to step up,” Atlanta’s defensive coordinator Dean Pees told AJC. “Hawk will step up. He was rotating a lot in there anyhow. Duron has been going almost the whole time. We’ve got Shawn Williams now. He’s going to have to step up.”

As for Grant, he’s going to be stuck with nickel duty.

“It’s hard to get him a lot of reps at safety, when you are trying to get him a lot of reps at nickel,” Pees said. “He is still a safety, but he’s really primarily the nickel first.”

Falcons Updated Week 15 Depth Chart

Below is the Falcons’ updated Week 15 depth chart against the Niners with the additions of Etheridge and Williams.

The Falcons also signed two defenders this week, inside linebacker Rashad Smith and cornerback Will Sunderland to the practice squad. We could also see them elevated by Sunday to help out on special teams.


QB: Matt Ryan, Josh Rosen, Feleipe Franks
RB: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison
WR: Tajae Sharpe, Christian Blake
WR: Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Frank Darby
TE: Kyle Pitts, Lee Smith
TE/FB: Hayden Hurst, Keith Smith
LT: Jake Matthews, Jason Spriggs
LG: Jalen Mayfield, Josh Andrews
C: Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman
RG: Chris Lindstrom, Drew Dalman
RT: Kaleb McGary, Colby Gossett


DL: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson
DL: Tyeler Davison, Ta’Quon Graham, Anthony Rush
DL: Jonathan Bullard, Mike Pennel, John Cominsky
OLB: Dante Fowler, Brandon Copeland
LB: Deion Jones, Mykal Walker, Dorian Etheridge
LB: Foyesade Oluokun
OLB: Steven Means, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, James Vaughters
CB: A.J. Terrell, Darren Hall
CB: Fabian Moreau, Avery Williams, Kendall Sheffield
S:  Jaylinn Hawkins, Shawn Williams
S: Duron Harmon, Richie Grant


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