As the high-powered New Orleans Saints offense comes to town this weekend, the San Francisco 49ers will be without two of their best remaining players in all probability. Linebacker Aaron Lynch has been ruled out for the Sunday’s contest at Levi’s Stadium, while running back Carlos Hyde remains questionable with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 6. The bye week really didn’t improve the situation for either player.
The 49ers don’t have the offensive firepower, especially without Hyde, to get into a shootout with the Saints and their bad defense. Meanwhile, the New Orleans offense just did enough to beat the Seattle Seahawks last week, so expecting the San Francisco defense to stop the Saints is asking a lot considering all the personnel losses the team has suffered on that side of the ball in the last 15 months.
Hyde and Lynch Updates
The 49ers starting RB injured his shoulder against the Buffalo Bills last month, and he hasn’t played since then. Hyde missed the Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and despite getting the extra week of rest with the bye, he still only was able to participate on a limited basis in practice all this week. The 49ers have other players at the position, of course, but Hyde is still the one they want on the field. However, expect the team to err on the side of caution here during a lost season that isn’t going to matter long term. Hyde’s health for 2017 and beyond is more important to the organization right now.
As for Lynch, he suffered a high ankle sprain in that Week 7 game against the Bucs, and he was unable to practice this week at all. He has been ruled out for the Saints game, and that will hurt the San Francisco defense’s ability to stop New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and his high-powered aerial attack. The 49ers will have to find another way to get pressure on Brees without Lynch in the game.
Robinson Only Other Major Injury
In the defensive secondary this weekend, the San Francisco gang will be without cornerback Rashard Robinson. He suffered a knee injury against Tampa Bay, and Robinson also was unable to participate at all in workouts this week despite the extra week of bye rest. That leaves the 49ers thinner against Brees’ arm and his talented receiving corps, of course. It could be a big day for the Saints offense on Sunday, since the S.F. defense is already one of the worst in the league this year. Without Lynch and Robinson on the field, the unit can’t be expected to fare decently against New Orleans.
The good news, though, is that six previously injured players on the roster were all full participants in Friday workouts, meaning the rest of the team is healthy. On the defensive line, four defensive tackles are back now from prior injuries: Arik Armstread (shoulder), Ronald Blair (ankle), Quinton Dial (knee) and Glenn Dorsey (knee). With this depth restored to the middle of the line, perhaps the 49ers can get a good push on the Saints offensive line and disrupt some of the timing plays in the passing game.
Saints Defense Has Its Own Injury Woes
New Orleans has a vulnerable defense, too, however, thanks to injuries to the linebacking group. Stephone Anthony (hamstring), Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep) and James Laurinaitis (quadricep) are all questionable for the 49ers matchup, and so are cornerback Sterling Moore (abdominal) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (knee). Like the San Francisco roster, the Saints don’t have a good defense, and they can ill afford these kinds of injuries. Fortunately for New Orleans, though, the 49ers offense isn’t in a good position itself to take advantage, and that could be the difference in the game on Sunday.
Carlos Hyde, running back (shoulder)
Aaron Lynch, linebacker (ankle)
Rashard Robinson, cornerback (ankle)
Post Author: Sam McPherson.