Amid injuries, the SF 49ers have relied on players who were supposed to be support options only, and these four have stepped up.
No team has been hit harder this season by injury than San Francisco, and it’s likely head coach Kyle Shanahan will have to put even more players on injured reserve after the victory, most likely nickel cornerback Jamar Taylor, who likely tore his ACL during the game while playing a relief role and filling in for starting nickel back K’Waun Williams, who is out with a high-ankle sprain.
Taylor filled in admirably and deserves some praise for his work after being mostly an afterthought during training camp and not even making the initial 53-man roster.
Yet that’s been the story for the 5-6 SF 49ers, who still find themselves in the playoff hunt despite so many injuries that would have forced lesser teams to concede defeat on the year and look forward to nothing but the offseason.
So, who else has stepped up despite not being tabbed as a major factor when the season commenced?
These four unsung heroes deserve a lot of praise for their work this season.
No. 4: SF 49ers Tight End Ross Dwelley
He’s not an All-Pro like tight end George Kittle. Not even close.
But reserve tight end Ross Dwelley has a knack for making plays when they’re needed the most. And when Kittle went down with a broken foot earlier this season, Dwelley had to be put into a position where he could at least positively impact the game’s outcome.
Week 12 was no exception, as Dwelley delivered a key block on Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald late in the fourth quarter to help set up San Francisco’s game-winning field goal.
Even though Dwelley had just one catch for 3 yards in the game, he’s still providing a positive impact when needed.
On the year, Dwelley has a career-best 147 receiving yards and will likely see more field time with Kittle out indefinitely.
And while the SF 49ers can’t wait to get Kittle back, at least the team’s depth behind him is shaping up to be good enough.