SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The No. 1 goal for any NFL team in any game, particularly a preseason contest, is to come out of it healthy. The San Francisco 49ers didn't make it through their exhibition opener against the Kansas City Chiefs completely unscathed, but it seems they did manage to avoid any serious injuries to key players.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who suffered a low ankle sprain that cost him time early in training camp, aggravated that injury Friday night. He departed the game during the first series and did not return, sparking some concerns about his long-term health.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Saturday night that while Buckner will miss a little bit of time, it's not too serious.
“DeForest is the same deal with his ankle," Shanahan said. "It’s the same ankle. It’s a low ankle sprain, which won’t be a long thing, but I’d be surprised if he played this week versus Denver. He keeps doing the same thing over and over again, so we’re going to have to rest him a little bit, let him get fully healthy, and I expect him to be doubtful here for Denver.”
Fellow defensive lineman Ronald Blair suffered a groin strain that caused him to miss a chunk of the game as well. And though it's a different injury, Shanahan indicated Blair's missed time will be similar to Buckner's.
“We kind of see him similar to DeForest," Shanahan said. "I know it’s a different injury, but kind of the timetable. He’s doubtful this week. There’s still a chance, but we’re not very optimistic about it for this week.”
One player the Niners are optimistic for this week is free safety Jimmie Ward. Ward suffered a hamstring injury during the team's conditioning test on reporting day. He's been on the physically unable to perform list throughout training camp, and the 49ers have been targeting this week for his potential return all along.
According to Shanahan, that's still possible, pending Ward passing some physical tests Sunday afternoon.
“That’s what we were eyeing," Shanahan said. "That’s what we were hoping for. We’re going to take him through a bunch of tests [Sunday] and run him a little bit to see how his hamstring holds up, and if he passes with [head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] and everybody [Sunday] when we recheck his hamstring, then we’ll feel good about him going versus Denver this week. But, if we don’t feel 100 percent great about it, we’re not going to risk Jimmie getting out there and re-injuring it, setting him back. If we don’t get a 110 percent positive report [Sunday], then we’ll just push it another few days.”
Linebacker Donavin Newsom, who suffered a concussion in a scary collision last week with safety Chanceller James, has been released from the hospital and will be back around the team this week but he remains in the concussion protocol and won't return to the field until he's cleared. Cornerback Dontae Johnson is also going through the protocol.