49ers depth chart: 4 players who must shoulder bigger loads in wake of injuries

San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward (20) Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward (20) Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
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Raheem Mostert, 49ers roster
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers have already been bitten by serious injuries in 2021, yet the ‘next man up’ mentality means these four have to shoulder bigger loads now.

Not yet two weeks into the 2021 regular season, and the San Francisco 49ers are already facing the reality of being down two of their biggest starters, running back Raheem Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett, for extensive periods of time.

Mostert is dealing with torn cartilage in his knee, and he opted for season-ending surgery, while Verrett suffered a devastating torn ACL in the Niners’ Week 1 victory over the Detroit Lions.

One can only hope the injury attrition that decimated head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad a year ago isn’t carrying over into 2021 any further than these two serious setbacks.

In the wake of Verrett being lost for the year, San Francisco inked veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to beef up the depth chart. But it might be some time before he truly acclimates, meaning the pressure will be on for other on-roster replacements.

Especially with a Week 2 road bout against the Philadelphia Eagles looming.

These four 49ers players are going to be expected to serve as the “next man up” for both Week 2 and likely well beyond.

No. 4: 49ers Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir

Of the two cornerbacks the Niners selected in this year’s NFL Draft, fifth-round rookie Deommodore Lenoir is the one most ready to contribute on the field on a regular basis.

The hope being third-round rookie Ambry Thomas, who is off to a painfully slow start, can eventually turn into something more than a back-end contributor.

Back to Lenoir, he excelled during the preseason, and that success has carried over into the early phases of the regular season, too, with him allowing just one catch for 3 yards on three total targets against Detroit.

Lenoir’s presence with Verrett out is only magnified in light of fellow cornerback Emmanuel Moseley being sidelined with a knee injury, and the latter’s status for Week 2 in doubt.

Even with veterans like Kirkpatrick now in the fray, it’s highly likely Lenoir will be tasked with seeing the field quite a lot in the coming weeks, including Sunday’s bout against the Eagles.