SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers are dealing with yet another hamstring injury and this time, it could put a key player’s status for the season opener in doubt.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday that free safety Jimmie Ward pulled a hamstring Sunday in practice and will be out “some time.” Asked if Ward could miss the Sept. 11 opener against the Chicago Bears, Shanahan said that was a possibility.
“There’s a chance,” Shanahan said. “It was a pretty bad hamstring injury. It’s not like the other two guys. We’ll see here over the next couple of weeks how it plays out.”
Ward joins a growing list of Niners expected to play significant roles dealing with soft-tissue injuries. Cornerback Charvarius Ward, running back Elijah Mitchell and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill are among the others who are not practicing because of similar injuries.
While soft-tissue injuries are considered a prevalent occurrence in training camp, Shanahan has identified a common thread in the injuries that has left him frustrated with the season less than a month away.
“It’s been bothersome to me,” Shanahan said. “They’ve all come after days off. This has been a real challenge this camp, more than any we’ve been in with just how it’s spaced out with these games and our day off rules. To really get into a groove for the guys, once you get about two days in, they’re getting a day off, sometimes two days off. So, I think our biggest challenge has been these off days and how to come back from them.”
With Ward and Dontae Johnson (ribs) out with injuries, the Niners will also likely have to add another safety or two to the roster. The candidates to replace Ward for now include veterans George Odum and Tarvarius Moore.
Moore might appear to be the obvious choice to replace Ward, given that’s something he did when Ward missed time in 2019. But Shanahan said Odum, whom the team signed from the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent in March, is also an option.
“I think all those guys are pretty neck and neck,” Shanahan said. “We’ll mix it around out there today.”
Ward has battled a variety of injuries in his career but has finally found some better luck in recent years, missing just six games over the past three seasons after he missed 29 in his first five seasons.
Entering his ninth year, Ward is the Niners’ longest-tenured player, something he told ESPN recently he takes great pride in.
“It means a lot,” Ward said. “I’ve been through a lot. Being able to play on one team in the NFL, that’s amazing. Not a lot of guys do that.”