SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – The San Francisco 49ers still aren’t certain about the availability of their top two running backs for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Matt Breida, among the NFL leaders in rushing, and Alfred Morris both were limited in practice Friday and are listed as questionable. That’s an obvious concern for an offense preparing for its first full game without franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against Kansas City.
Breida hyperextended his right knee while planting to make a cut in the first half against the Chiefs. He returned later in the game, but the second-year back out of Georgia Southern hasn’t shown considerable improvement in practice since then.
“He’s been up and down a little bit this week,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday. “He got a little bit more (practice time Thursday). We kept him limited just trying to manage the wear and tear. But ‘questionable’ is better than ‘doubtful,’ so we’re hoping it works out.”
Morris also is slowed by a knee injury. While he brings power running between the tackles, Breida is the game-breaking threat. His 274 yards are tied for second in the league with the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott behind the Rams’ Todd Gurley.
But Breida has carried the ball just 32 times, giving him an average of 8.6 yards per carry that’s best in the NFL.
His emergence has helped soften the blow of the 49ers losing expected starting running back Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL shortly before the season opener.
Breida had said he initially feared a much more serious injury.
“It’s gonna be a game-time decision,” Breida said of his availability against the Chargers. “I gotta feel comfortable. I’m not at 100 percent right now.
“I know I have to be smart, too, and understand that if I’m not gonna be able to cut off it and not gonna be able to run, then why go out there and get myself hurt and hurt the team at the same time?”
San Francisco’s depth in the secondary also remains an issue. Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt is doubtful and is likely to miss his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury. He didn’t practice Friday.
Antone Exum would start in Tartt’s place; Exum made nine tackles with a sack and a forced fumble against Kansas City.
“Exum’s here for a reason,” Shanahan said. “I thought he got a lot better as the game went. I think he made some mistakes early in the game, and I think once he played a little bit more, it slowed down for him.”
Free safety Adrian Colbert is questionable with a hip injury. Should he not be available Sunday, rookie D.J. Reed likely would take his spot.
The 49ers already were without veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, expected to miss at least two games with a strained calf.
NOTES: Receiver Marquise Goodwin (quad) and right guard Mike Person (knee) participated fully in Friday’s practice and are expected to play against the Chargers. Reserve guard Joshua Garnett (toe) remains out.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.