The 49ers are Struck With the Injury Bug. Again.
The San Francisco 49ers have again been struck with unfortunate injuries during the final week of the team’s OTA practices.
The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported Tuesday morning that offensive tackle Justin Skule tore his ACL, and safety Tarvarius Moore tore his Achilles during practice on Monday. Both of which will miss the majority — if not the entirety — of the 2021 season.
Here’s a look at the roles the two were expected to fill in the upcoming season, and what to expect going forward.
Solid Backup Behind Williams
The 49ers selected Skule in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and has since played in 32 games, 12 of which he was a starter. In his first season, Skule played 51% of the offensive snaps and allowed 6 sacks. He ended his rookie campaign with an overall PFF grade of 62.3, and a 70.8 run-blocking grade.
Last season, Skule started four games, playing at both left tackle and right guard. The now 24-year-old played only 255 snaps and allowed 2 sacks.
As for this offseason, Skule was starting throughout OTA’s due to the absence of 8-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams. Although Skule struggled last season, he was a solid option to slide in if an injury to a starter were to occur.
Potential Starting Safety
By all accounts, Tarvarius Moore was in a position to potentially grab a starting job at safety. During his first three seasons, Moore has started in 13 of his 48 games played, making 100 total tackles, and recovering a single fumble.
In 2020, Moore allowed 12 receptions, playing in 53% of San Francisco’s defensive snaps. His 70.1 run defense grade from PFF was the highest of his career, while his coverage grade dropped from 62.1 in 2019 to 56.1.
Moore was taking first-team reps during the Niners’ OTA’s due to an injury to four-year starter Jaquiski Tartt. The injury is a big hit to the secondary of the 49ers. However, with recovery time expected to be around 4-6 months, there is optimism that he could return late in the season.
The NFL is a “next man up” type of business. At the tackle position, it appears Jaylon Moore or Shon Coleman would slide into the backup position.
Moore was a fifth-round selection in last month’s NFL Draft, and this could be a good opportunity for the team to see what the 6-4, 311-pounder can bring to the table. In 2018, Moore
was the starting left tackle in all 13 games for the Western Michigan Broncos.
Shon Coleman is entering his sixth professional season, having not played since the 2017 season as a member of the Cleveland Browns. That season, Coleman played 1,044 snaps, allowed 6 sacks, and received 14 penalties. Since then, the 29-year-old has dealt with injuries, and he decided to opt out of the 2020 season. If he can remain healthy, he seems to be in a position to compete for the backup gig.
As for safety, all signs point to the return of Jaquiski Tartt come September. However, with health a factor with him as well, rookie Talanoa Hufanga and Marcell Harris also make for interesting candidates.
Hufanga was awarded both the All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2020, finishing with 4 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. His 16 career tackles for loss and 6.5 career sacks make him an intriguing option to fill the starting role.
Harris, on the other hand, started 4 games last season for San Francisco, making 27 solo tackles, and forcing two fumbles. Keep an eye out for him to potentially snag the job sometime in the summer.