The start of the regular season can’t come soon enough for the San Francisco 49ers.
On Friday, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey exited practice early due to a left arm injury, but the extent of the injury at the time was unknown. Then ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s source stated Dorsey was expected to miss the entire season, and that came in like a punch to the gut.
Dorsey, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, came to San Francisco in a trade last offseason. While he was considered a bust with the Kansas City Chiefs due to his high draft selection, playing for the 49ers gave Dorsey new life. He tied his career-high for sacks with two and started 13 out of 16 games. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was productive. He anchored the middle of the line, creating sack opportunities for Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
He was also very good against the run, as he was rated ninth overall by Pro Football Focus among nose tackles.
With Dorsey expected to miss significant time, the 49ers are going to have to dig deep to replace him. Ian Williams, last season’s starting nose tackle, is still recovering from a broken bone and torn ankle ligaments, and has yet to practice. Second-year player Mike Purcell filled in for Dorsey on Friday after he left, and the 49ers also have Quinton Dial and Tony Gerod-Eddie available. The main guy, however, who I’m looking at to make the his presence felt with the loss of Dorsey is Tank Carradine.
As fellow Rant Sports writer Brian Cox talked about in a recent article, Carradine has been impressing in his first healthy preseason with the 49ers. While I don’t see Carradine playing much at nose tackle with his natural position being defensive end, being healthy will give 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio pieces to play with to offset the loss of Dorsey.
There’s not going to be a single player who will be able to do what Dorsey did last year, but as a group, they can at least limit the damage. Carradine was ranked as an early first-round pick before getting hurt at the end of his final season at Florida State, and now that he’s healthy, he’s ready to make his presence felt.