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Adrian Colbert Might Get His Number Called on Thursday vs. Rams
September 19, 2017 10:18 PM | Joe Fann

Just as the San Francisco 49ers got Jimmie Ward back in the lineup, the team lost Eric Reid to a knee injury. Kyle Shanahan informed reporters on Monday that San Francisco's starting strong safety will not play on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams.

"It's probably going to be a little bit longer than that, also," Shanahan said.

The good news is that the left knee injury isn't the worst-case scenario. Shanahan described it as a "PCL issue" that won't require surgery. Even so, there isn't a timetable for when Reid will be back on the field.

Jaquiski Tartt's status for Week 3 is also in up in the air. Tartt is dealing with a neck injury and might not be able to be ready in time on a short week.

"Right now he's questionable," Shanahan said on Monday. "I know he was hurting today. We'll see how he is when he comes in tomorrow."

Should Tartt be unable to go against the Rams, the 49ers would turn to a pair of rookies - Lorenzo Jerome and Adrian Colbert. Both players would be candidates to start at strong safety.

"They'd be competing for that," Robert Saleh said on Tuesday.

Jerome started at free safety during the team's first two preseason games. Colbert got the nod in the preseason finale. However, neither rookie has seen any playing time at strong safety in a game situation.

Colbert specifically has been moved around the defense quite a bit since the 49ers drafted him in the seventh round. He started at corner before being moved to safety. Even though he's still listed as a defensive back on the roster, it appears that the 49ers have settled on him as a safety for the time being.

The Miami product is eager for his opportunity.

"I'm prepared for it," Colbert said. "I've been working the past couple of weeks (at both safety spots). I'm ready to play whatever position they need me at."

In San Francisco's final exhibition game, Colbert blew up Los Angeles Chargers running back Kenjon Barner and forced a fumble. The emphatic hit gave him the confidence that he belonged in the NFL.

"One hundred percent," Colbert said. "It made me feel real good to be in that position and make that type of play at this level."

Colbert's physicality would serve him well in place of Reid and Tartt, where he would play primarily in the box.

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Colbert provides a little more size than Jerome, who is 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds. That said, Jerome said he played strong safety in a similar defensive scheme at St. Francis.

Both players are viable options and will compete over the next two days. We won't know until just before kickoff whether or not Tartt will be playing and who would take his place. Should Jerome or Colbert be called upon, they'd be the fifth 49ers rookie to start already in 2017, joining Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, George Kittle and Trent Taylor (starting slot receiver).

It's going to be a situation to monitor as the 49ers look for their first win of the 2017 season against Jared Goff and the Rams.

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