49ers’ Shanahan Reacts to Possibly Having Thin Secondary vs. Rams

Kyle Shanahan

Getty 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan calls a play during the December 12, 2021 road game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

As of Thursday morning, January 6 inside the San Francisco 49ers‘ building, there’s a shortage of defensive backs for Sunday down in Inglewood.

Who’s healthy? Well, 49ers insider David Lombardi of The Athletic posted this at 2:11 p.m. PT on Wednesday:

Currently, Jaquiski Tartt, Talanoa Hufanga, Josh Norman and Jarrod Wilson are healthy and practicing. Who, right now, is in limbo? Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams, Jimmie Ward and the latest — the rookies Deommodore Lenoir and Ambry Thomas. All five aren’t injured, but landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Thomas posted his reaction before 49ers practice on Wednesday.

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And Lombardi, as noted in this Heavy on 49ers story, called Ward’s possible loss a “massive blow.”

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So the 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan are facing the possibility of working with a skeleton crew for the huge Sunday, January showdown against the Los Angeles Rams in a game where the 49ers control their own destiny: Win and they’re in the NFC postseason. But is there cause of concern from Shanahan in practicing this week with a thin group to prepare for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp?

Shanahan Reacts to Dealing with Thin DB Numbers

The fifth-year 49ers head coach isn’t known to be stoic or boisterous during press conferences with the Bay Area media. However, he has shown optimism and confidence through his words regarding missing players.

And he shared with the media his confidence level in having a full secondary lineup for the NFC West battle at SoFi Stadium.

“Yeah, I’m optimistic,” Shanahan said. “Just watching how it worked for a number of teams around the NFL last week. Guys who got it on Monday and were able to come back, I think some guys got it on Tuesday, they were able to come back, so I am optimistic.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that all five are guaranteed to be in pads and helmet down in Southern California, with Shanahan ending with “but I think your guess is as good as mine.”

Shanahan on the Booster Shot

Has any 49er player been poked with the booster shot during the time period of coronavirus and now omicron? That was a question brought up to Shanahan.

The head coach gave this response:

“The booster shot, I don’t know what that does for the players, except just getting it, as far as rules and everything,” Shanahan said. “We have the guys that I think that you guys know that are on it. Right now, we’ve got Dontae, Jimmie Ward, Ambry Thomas and K’Waun.”

But here’s another reason for Shanahan’s optimism: The updated protocols now in place.

“With the new protocols, they all do have a chance to test back in before Sunday,” Shanahan said. “So I’m just hoping that goes well with them and hopefully they’re symptom-free.”

One key 49er Could Return

There is this welcoming sight for the 49ers secondary: Emmanuel Moseley is going through practice drills in preparation for the Rams.

Moseley has been out of action for nearly the entire month of December due to a high ankle sprain. But his presence will surely come in handy against the Rams’ weapons. Before his injury, Moseley hadn’t surrendered a touchdown his side all season long.

The dilemma the 49ers secondary is facing is missing time with their teammates on the field next to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Yet, Shanahan is a believer the players who are out won’t feel lost in the game plan against the Rams.

“Anytime guys miss practice it doesn’t help. But the main thing is it’s late in the year and our guys have a good idea what they’re doing, so the goal is just to get them to Sunday and hopefully that’ll be a possibility,” Shanahan said.

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