SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is expected to miss at least a month with a right foot sprain, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.
Emmanuel Moseley is in the lead over veteran Jason Verrett to replace Witherspoon, Shanahan said.
“It’ll be all about practice,” Shanahan said. “We have a number of guys who are candidates for it.”
The 49ers will practice Tuesday and get the rest of the week off before returning next week to begin preparations to face the Cleveland Browns on Monday, Oct. 7, at Levi's Stadium.
The 49ers are optimistic about getting two offensive players back after the bye week, Shanahan said.
Running back Tevin Coleman is making good progress after sustaining an ankle sprain in Week 1 against Tampa Bay. And rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd has missed more than a month with a stress reaction in his back.
The loss of Witherspoon is a big blow to the 49ers.
Witherspoon exited the game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter. He underwent an MRI examination on Monday and is expected to get a second opinion from a foot specialist.
“I felt real bad for him because he’s been playing at a high level,” Shanahan said. “He’s been covering very well. He was playing very physical, too. I thought yesterday was probably the most physical game I’ve seen him have. He was making tackles and he was throwing his body around.
“It’s unfortunate for him, but setbacks do happen. It’s a part of football. He’ll work to get back, and when he comes back, I expect him to be right where he was when he left off.”
In Witherspoon’s absence, Verrett was on the field for three snaps at right cornerback. He was called for pass interference against James Washington – a 32-yard infraction. On the next play, Diontae Johnson beat Verrett for a 39-yard touchdown pass from Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
The 49ers benched Verrett and inserted Moseley, who played the final two possessions as the 49ers came back to take the lead and secure the 24-20 victory.
Shanahan said the 49ers will look at all available options to strengthen their roster, including the trade market. Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey last week requested a trade, but the 49ers have not been interested in making that deal due to the level of compensation they would have to send to Jacksonville, as well as the contract it would take to lock up Ramsey to a multi-year extension.
“We always look at the trade market, but it’s got to make sense,” Shanahan said. “How much does it help the team right now? And how much does it help the organization going forward? You always think about right now, but you also have to think about years in advance, too. How it affects the salary cap and draft picks, things like that.”