Lynch offers update on Gray, other 49ers who could return from IR originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The 49ers made a significant defensive line addition Tuesday by trading for pass rusher Chase Young, but they also hope to receive productivity from players who have yet to see game action this season.
San Francisco has four players on injured reserve — defensive back Samuel Womack III, defensive lineman Robert Beal Jr., wide receiver Danny Gray and tight end Cameron Latu. Defensive back Darrell Luter Jr. remains on the physically unable to perform list.
All but Latu, the rookie tight end who suffered a meniscus injury during the preseason finale, have the potential to contribute to the team soon, per 49ers general manager John Lynch.
“I think we’re on the verge of we’ve got to make that decision,” Lynch told reporters Wednesday on a conference call. “Kyle [Shanahan] and I will have some conversations and, obviously, with the council of our health and performance staff, but these guys are ready to have their windows open.
“But you also have to have roster spots available. But I do believe a couple, if not a few, are on the verge of having their windows open. At some point, we’ve got to see what they can provide us.”
San Francisco's defense has had its challenges in stopping opposing offenses, especially in the three consecutive losses before its bye week. Adding Young to the line potentially will help put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stop the run, but the 49ers hope they can find pass-coverage help with players currently on the roster.
Womack, a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, appeared in 16 games as a rookie, predominantly on special teams. In the Toledo product’s 146 defensive snaps, Womack registered 19 tackles — 13 solo and one for a loss -- and also racked up one interception, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
San Francisco is looking for the right answer at its nickel back role, and Womack, who is recovering from a knee injury, likely will have his shot to show what he can do.
Luter, who suffered a bone bruise on his knee during training camp, also could offer some depth in the secondary. The 49ers selected the South Alabama product in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and he could return to the field soon as well.
Both Gray (shoulder) and Beal (hamstring) could add depth to their respective positions when they come back, but the 49ers' front office would have tough decisions on whose 53-man roster spot they'd take.