Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan fails to offer a vote of confidence for Joshua Garnett, 49ers escape Chiefs nearly injury-free

Aug 24, 2019 at 10:26 PM--

San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward played on Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs just days after returning to team drills. He suffered a fractured collarbone in May.

Guard Joshua Garnett also returned to practice after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated finger. He, however, was among the players who did not suit up on Saturday.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has some tough decisions to make over the next week. His roster is a lot deeper than it has been in recent years. When it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 players, Shanahan knows he's going to be cutting loose some good talent.

Some of the first to go might be those who haven't been able to prove themselves able to stay healthy. Ward has the benefit of being a versatile player who can play multiple positions. He showed that against the Chiefs playing both free safety and in the slot. It so happens that the 49ers might be able to use him in the latter come Week 1, with K'Waun Williams' status for the season opener in question.

Garnett might not have that benefit going for him.

"We know that he's got the ability," Shanahan said of Garnett, "but I was just telling our team we've got to cut down to 53 here in six days, I think. And there's a lot more than 53 NFL players in there. And it's not just about ability and who's the best, it's about who's going to be available. It's not just our 53 for Week 1; it's who's going to be the 53 who we think can play with us throughout the year.

"The last couple of years, I think we've been in some situations where you can't always pick that. You have to pick on the guys with the upside and things like that, but the most important thing are guys who are going to be available.

"I know Josh wanted to go tonight. He'll go next week, though. I mean, he has a legit injury. He's got a cast on. Hopefully, he'll be able to play through that and show us that. He's competing with some guys, and there's a lot of guys on our roster in that same situation."

Unlike the last time the 49ers visited Arrowhead Stadium, the team escaped Kansas City relatively healthy. The only in-game injury Shanahan noted was that fullback Kyle Juszczyk suffered a hand contusion after hitting his hand against a helmet.

That's relatively good news for a team that has been struck by the injury bug this offseason.

Shanahan expects to get several players back to practice during the upcoming week. The coach joined KNBR on Friday and shared that he expects running back Jerick McKinnon, center Weston Richburg, and pass rusher Dee Ford to practice this week.

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