Seeing the need for help in key areas for the season opener, the 49ers on Saturday promoted two veterans – center Hronis Grasu and cornerback Donte Johnson – from the practice squad.
It is not out of the question that the 49ers’ season opener against the Arizona Cardinals at Grasu Levi’s Stadium can begin Sunday.
And with the Cardinals’ abundant use of multi-receiver structures, Johnson could also see significant playing time.
Under the new NFL rules for coping with the COVID-19 epidemic, the 49ers are not required to make any similar roster moves to Grasu and Johnson’s account, although Samuel was placed on the IR.
Both players may return to the practice squad next week and are not subject to the Waves. This season, each team is allowed to suit 48 players, for the Games.
Grasu may need to play a bigger role in listing as an opener with center Ben Garland due to an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice since August 18. Garland participated in only limited work in the practice field this week.
Grasu, 29, played in 13 games with 13 starts for the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens since entering the NFL in 2015. The 49ers signed it on 20 August.
Right tackle Mike McGlenchy said this week that Grasu immediately fit into the 49ers offensive line room upon his arrival.
“Hroniss has been terrible,” McGlinchey said. “He’s been great ever since he came here. He has avoided our crime. Obviously, as the center, you have to be able to command everything there. He’s done an incredible job.
“Whether it’s him, Ben, I don’t think we can beat anybody.” Hroniss is a great football player, a really tough fighter, and when his time comes he is going to be great for us. ”
Garland began the final three regular season games last season after sustaining a torn patellar tendon in Westland Richburg’s right knee and three postseason games. Richberg is ineligible for the first six matches of the season after being on the physically unable-to-perform list.
Seven-year NFL veteran Johnson had seven matches in action for the 49ers last season.
In his career, he has made 73 starts in 22 matches. Johnson was promoted as backup cornerback Jason Verrett was ruled out for Week 1 with a hamstring injury.
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The 49ers opted not to promote any of the receivers in their practice squad. Samuel (leg) is dismissed, and rookie Brandon Ayuk (hamstring) is doubtful.
With the move to put Samuel on IR, the first game he will be eligible for is Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles at Levi’s Stadium. Samuel would miss two games in New Jersey, against the New York Jets and the New York Giants on an artificial surface.
Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis will open the game with Trent Taylor in the prospect slot as the team’s top outside receiver. Richie James is the only other receiver on the 49ers’ 53-man roster.