With a convincing victory over the Bengals Sunday, the 49ers are 2-0 and off to a great start to what they hope is a turnaround season.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw three touchdown passes, the running attack was terrific and the defense dominating in the 41-17 victory.
But, the win came at a cost.
Veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley suffered a broken bone in his leg and will be out of action about two months, meaning he won’t be back until late November or early December, even if all goes well.
It’s a huge blow to the offense, where Staley anchors the offensive line and is its most experienced player and leader.
According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers will not put Staley on injured reserve, so that he can be brought back when he’s recovered.
“Any time you lose your left tackle, it’s always significant,” Shanahan told reporters. Shanahan said, however, that he’s optimistic about his return, saying, “At least we’ll still get him back later this year.”
Shanahan said it’s unlikely the 49ers will switch second-year right tackle Mike McGlinchey to the left side. McGlinchey will probably stay put and provide stability and continuity at his position.
The 49ers could fill the spot from within, with sixth-round pick Justin Skule, or go outside the organization to fill the vacancy via trade or free agency. Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group suggested Monday that veteran Washington tackle Trent Williams, a multi-year Pro Bowl pick, is holding out and unhappy, and could be available via trade. But, noted Inman, the price might be too high.
Staley, in his 13th season, suffered a broken left fibula Sunday. He says he’ll work hard to get back as soon as possible.
“I’m going to do evertything I can to be part of this team for an end-of-season run,” Staley told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. Staley says he’s “bummed” he can’t be a part of this team on the field for the bulk of this season.
The 49ers return to action this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.