SF 49ers vs. NY Jets: 5 Week 2 X-factors for Kyle Shanahan

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Richard Sherman, 49ers
Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

No. 5: Overcoming early injuries within the SF 49ers secondary

In something of a surprise development, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman suddenly landed on short-term injured reserve with an apparent leg injury, meaning he’ll miss at least the next three games while recovering and won’t be available versus New York.

Simultaneously, depth corner Ahkello Witherspoon is in the concussion protocol, putting yet even more strain on a position where there wasn’t exactly a lot of proven depth entering the regular season.

Particularly with fellow cornerback Jason Verrett already nursing a hamstring injury and missing Week 1 while being listed as inactive.

Witherspoon’s health will be key, of course. And he’ll surely get the start alongside fellow boundary cornerback Emmanuel Moseley once removed from the concussion protocol. But if he’s unavailable, it’s highly likely reserve corner Dontae Johnson winds up being the starter.

Johnson, who was just activated off the practice squad, started 16 games for San Francisco within the current defensive system back in 2017. Despite bouncing back and forth off the roster multiple times since then, including stints with other teams, Johnson appears to be a 49ers favorite.

Fortunately, Johnson, Moseley and the rest of the Niners defense won’t have to defend against Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in Week 2.

But Jets wideout Jamison Crowder, who recorded 115 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown in Week 1 versus the Buffalo Bills, is still a notable threat to San Francisco’s defense.