Already a position where depth was a concern, the San Francisco 49ers' outside linebacker position took another hit with their most recent roster move. With concerns regarding Parys Haralson's health status, the team answered all questions by placing him on injured reserve in order to make room on the 53-man roster for recent veteran signing Clark Haggans.
Since the 49ers' third exhibition game on August 26 against the Denver Broncos, Haralson was nowhere to be seen at practice and at the team's final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. Secretive about his whereabouts, coach Jim Harbaugh simply said that "he's working through something," implying that he could may be back in time for the team's Week 1 game against the Green Bay Packers. Instead, it appears as though his absence will be a lot more than just a little missed time, as his left arm injury was apparently enough for him to be placed on injured reserve.
In regards to the depth at the position, this could turn out to be a big problem for the team down the line. A starter at outside linebacker for all 16 games last season opposite of Ahmad Brooks, Haralson was set to be the first backup at the position off the bench with Aldon Smith taking his spot in the starting lineup. With 203 tackles and 21.5 sacks in his six years with the 49ers, he has been a consistent contributor for the defense.
With Haralson gone, this now moves Haggans up on the depth chart from seldom used backup to a key cog in the team's depth. Especially when considering Smith's hip concerns during the preseason, Haggans, assuming he remains the third-best outside linebacker on the team, will now be asked to have an even bigger role on the defense.
While the severity of his injury is unknown for now, the 49ers will not be eligible to return this season. In the past, once a player is placed on injured reserve, he will not be allowed to play for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. Now with a new NFL rule, players who are placed on injured reserve after Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. PT and noted as "Designated for Return" could come back as early as eight weeks after the date he was placed on injured reserve. Seeing how the 49ers chose to place Haralson on injured reserve before the rule comes into effect, this signals that his injury is definitely major.
Now a big concern for the team, will the 49ers try and go out and add another outside linebacker to the roster? To initially reach the 53-player limit, the team let go Cam Johnson, Eric Bakhtiari, and Ikaika Alama-Francis. With their familiarity with the 49ers playbook, one of these three could definitely be placed on the active roster if the team decides their three-player group of Smith, Brooks, and Haggans is not enough. Given the concerns at the position, the 49ers may very well add a fourth player to the mix due to Haggan's pending suspension and Smith's first year as a full-time starter.
UPDATE: 49ers place Haralson in Injured Reserve, CSN Bay Area
Parys Haralson Career Stats, Yahoo! Sports
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