The 49ers got bad news with Raheem Mostert poised to miss eight weeks, putting strain on a depth chart that has talent but also question marks.
The San Francisco 49ers‘ Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions counts as a victory, yes. But when looking at the long-term ramifications of coming away 1-0 to start the season, it almost felt like a loss.
Especially knowing starting cornerback Jason Verrett will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL suffered late in the game when Detroit was attempting its desperate comeback.
Additionally, the Niners lost their starting running back, Raheem Mostert, to a knee injury early in the game. While head coach Kyle Shanahan remained confident in his postgame press conference that Mostert didn’t suffer the same fate at Verrett, Shanahan’s comments on Monday weren’t exactly a sign of relief.
Per the head coach, Mostert will be out eight weeks because of torn cartilage in his knee.
With soon to be only three healthy running backs on the 53-man roster, it’ll be interesting to see what Shanahan has in mind for bulking up the rest of the depth chart. The veteran, Wayne Gallman, didn’t make the original cut and was released after the preseason, eventually signing with the Atlanta Falcons.
So, there’ll likely be another corresponding move and addition at the position.
For the rest of the depth chart, how does Mostert’s injury shake things up?
49ers got by without Raheem Mostert in Week 1
On the surface, it wouldn’t appear as if San Francisco’s offense missed much of a step after Mostert departed in the Lions game. Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell got the call as the primary tailback and rushed for an impressive 104 yards on 19 carries, picking up a touchdown in the process.
The impromptu No. 2 tailback, JaMycal Hasty, also added a touchdown carry as well.
The surprise move, however, was seeing running back Trey Sermon, the 49ers’ third-round pick from this year’s NFL Draft, listed as inactive. After the game, Shanahan told reporters how Mostert, Mitchell and Hasty all beat out Sermon in training camp and the preseason. And while Shanahan originally wanted to dress four running backs, the numbers elsewhere wouldn’t have added up.
So, Sermon was nixed from seeing the field in Week 1.
That’ll likely change heading into Week 2, however, as Sermon will have to be relied upon to at least shoulder some load-bearing responsibilities behind the other two still-healthy rushers.
Overall, though, Sermon still needs to prove he can climb the depth chart.
49ers still have Jeff Wilson Jr. as an X-factor
Somewhat forgotten in the mix is running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who suffered a torn meniscus during organized team activities and was projected to be out between four to six months. His placement on the physically unable-to-perform list during the offseason meant he wouldn’t be able to see the field until six weeks into the regular season.
Considering the Niners have a Week 6 bye, that means Wilson wouldn’t be eligible to return until Week 8 at the Chicago Bears.
Depending on how Wilson’s recovery is going, San Francisco might only have to sign a back-of-the-roster player to plug the gap between Weeks 2 and 8, potentially hoping for fully healthy returns from both Mostert and Wilson, the latter being the 49ers’ top touchdown scorer from a year ago with 10.
If anything, plugging that gap will be crucial, just as much as getting continued quality production out of Mitchell and Hasty while hoping Sermon makes his ascent sooner than later.