Chris Borland's rookie 49ers season likely over
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Linebacker Chris Borland's stellar rookie season for San Francisco is likely over.
49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said ''it'd be a stretch right now'' for Borland to return from an ankle injury for the final two games. San Francisco (7-7) was eliminated from playoff contention in a 17-7 loss at Seattle on Sunday.
The NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for November, Borland was injured on the final play of the first half against the Seahawks. He was scheduled for an MRI on the ankle Monday, and Fangio said Tuesday that Borland was unlikely to play against San Diego on Saturday night or in the season finale against Arizona on Dec. 28.
He did an admirable job filling in for star Patrick Willis, who didn't play again after an Oct. 13 win at St. Louis and was eventually lost for the season last month when he needed surgery for a strained muscle in his left big toe.
San Francisco was down to one healthy inside linebacker against the Seahawks. Adding depth at the position to get them through the final two games, the 49ers signed linebacker Desmond Bishop to a one-year deal.
Borland had 107 tackles, good for 12th in the NFL and 33 more than teammate Antoine Bethea, who is second on the team.
''He's done extremely well. He started off when he came in for Pat late in the second quarter of that first game that he played,'' Fangio said. ''He kind of just played and did fine. But, then the next game, which was his first start, he didn't play as well. And then from that point on, he has taken off and done well. He still makes some mistakes. Still doesn't react well to certain plays and certain coverages the way he should consistently enough, but I think that will come. I think we got a player that nobody was so sure that if he could play at his collegiate level in the pros and with his work this year, he's proven that he can, to some degree.''
Fellow defensive rookie, cornerback and first-round pick Jimmie Ward, shared details of his second fracture and surgery on his right foot in eight months.
Ward was hurt in an overtime win at New Orleans on Nov. 9, and he underwent his second operation on the foot since March. He said doctors removed a screw that had bent and replaced it with a slightly longer screw of about 3 inches that could remain in his foot through next season, or until the bone is determined to be fully healed.
''Same injury,'' Ward said. ''Every injury is a concern. A couple more guys had the same injury and re-fractured their (foot) and had surgery again. Basically I'm going through the same thing. Hopefully it heals well and I'm ready to play next year.''
Ward, the 30th overall draft pick out of Northern Illinois, finished with 20 tackles and two passes defensed in eight games. From the time of the injury, Ward was told he would have to stay off the foot for 10 weeks, so he expects to be off crutches in another week. Then, he will have another X-ray to evaluate the healing. He is hopeful of being at full strength for the team's offseason program.
''I should be able to, more than ready to go,'' Ward said.
Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks dislocated his left thumb, which could force him out Saturday.
''I don't know. We'll find out,'' Fangio said. ''A thumb is an important part of your hand there and if he can't take on, or if he's hedging to take on, then we'll have to play somebody else.''
NOTES: Fangio offered his position on some of the penalties at Seattle: ''All three personal fouls were incorrect calls. I know the rules.''... Clearing roster room for Bishop, the Niners placed WR Kassim Osgood on season-ending injured reserve. ... San Francisco also signed CB Cameron Fuller and TE Xavier Grimble to the practice squad.
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