The 49ers lost more than a game Sunday.
They lost a wide receiver. And their kickoff returner. And their punt returner.
Ted Ginn, who handles all three duties, suffered an MCL sprain in the Niners' 31-6 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. Multiple sources reported Tuesday that Ginn will miss a few weeks with the injury.
Ginn's knee injury sent dominoes falling. The Niners signed wide receiver Jason Hill, who was released Sept.3 during final rosters cuts. They also released undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Tramaine Brock and released linebacker Bruce Davis from the practice squad. Davis' release suggests the 49ers might place Brock on the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Ginn's injury depletes a wide receiver corps that didn't sparkle Sunday. Ginn, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan combined for six catches for 63 yards. Seven of the 15 throws quarterback Alex Smith threw in their direction fell incomplete and two others were intercepted.
Ginn was injured on his first catch as a 49er, a sliding 19-yard grab in the fourth quarter. Without Ginn, Dominique Zeigler will become the No.3 wide receiver. Ziegler beat out Hill for a roster spot with 10 catches for 124 yards, both team-highs, during the exhibition season. Hill, a San Francisco native, was the Niners' third-round draft pick in 2007. He has 40 catches for 413 yards and four touchdowns in his three-year career. He had one catch for 24 yards in the preseason.
With rookie Kyle Williams (turf toe) still sidelined, rookie Phillip Adams is the likely candidate to at least assume Ginn's punt-return duties. Adams averaged 25.8 yards on six punt returns and had an 83-yard touchdown. He did not return a kickoff during the exhibition season and did not return kickoffs at South Carolina State.
PLAY-CALLING WOES DETAILED
Citing multiple unnamed sources, a Yahoo Sports story said the Niners' difficulty in relaying play calls to their quarterback has been going on for more than a year and was exacerbated Sunday when quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson had trouble deciphering offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's play calls due to the crowd noise. Coach Mike Singletary, the story says, was seen yelling at Johnson on the sideline when plays were getting to quarterback Alex Smith too late.
Last year, offensive assistant Jason Michael took the calls from Raye and delivered them to the quarterback. The story says Michael was more adept at getting the calls from Raye, who didn't always deliver plays in a timely manner. The story quotes an unnamed source as saying of Raye, "He knows the plays and he knows the right thing to call, but he's fumbling through his papers and it's like, &‘Hey, we need to get a play called.'"
Yahoo reporter Jason Cole also characterized the trust the players have in the coaching staff as "tepid."
For more on the 49ers, go to Instant 49ers at blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers. You can reach Staff Writer Eric Branch at email@example.com and follow him at twitter.com/Eric_Branch.