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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are scrambling to remake their secondary.

They don’t know if cornerback Richard Sherman will be available for their next game. And they placed starting free safety Adrian Colbert on the Injured Reserve list Monday. Colbert has a high ankle sprain which will take between six and eight weeks to heal. He probably will not return this season, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Colbert injured his right ankle breaking up a pass Sunday during the 49ers 39-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“He was having one of his better games,” Shanahan said Monday. “It had been a challenge for him the last few weeks. In this game, he covered sideline to sideline very well and was running and hitting. And he made a real good play when he got hurt.”

It was the first pass Colbert broke up all season. The Rams had the ball at their 40-yard line with 11:08 left in the third quarter. The 49ers were trailing 22-7 — they still were in the game. Colbert’s play mattered.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff faked a handoff and fired a deep pass up the left sideline to wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was open. He had beaten 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

Colbert did not react to the play-action fake. He kept his eyes on Goff, tracked his pass, sprinted toward the sideline and flew through the air toward the ball.

“Colbert tried to challenge the pass, go over the top,” Shanahan explained. “You want the corner (covering) there. Usually the (free safety) won’t show up, but Colbert did. He made a good play. Unfortunately, he got hurt.”

As Colbert flew, he collided with Witherspoon, spun 180 degrees in the air and landed awkwardly on his right leg, which twisted and crumpled under his body weight. He couldn’t walk off the field. The 49ers drove him to the locker room on a cart.

“It’s tough, but it’s part of football,” Shanahan said. “Colbert last year got his opportunity because a lot of guys went down. The second half of the year, we got to watch him grow and go through some trial and error. He ended up playing at a very high level and made us very excited about him going into this year. Now, Colbert going out will give more opportunities to other players. We hope some other guys step it up like Colbert did last year.”

The 49ers took Colbert in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. He started the final six games last season when Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt were injured, and recorded 32 tackles and five pass breakups — promising stats for a rookie.

But Colbert was much less productive this season. He started six of the 49ers’ first seven games and recorded 20 tackles and just one pass breakup. Shanahan called it a sophomore slump.

“I have seen a lot of them over my years,” Shanahan said. “Percentage-wise, they happen to a lot of people. I think you come in as a rookie and don’t really know what to expect. You’re just trying to survive and not get cut. Then, you start to gain some confidence that you can play in this league. You come back the next year, and you want to take it to the next level. You do a little bit more, you work more, you put a little bit more pressure on yourself and try to do extra and you end up forgetting what got you there.”

The main candidates to replace Colbert at free safety are fifth-year defensive back Jimmie Ward and rookie D.J. Reed.

“We will look into all options,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see how practices go throughout the week. We have to see if Ward is ready to practice this week. He is coming off a hamstring injury. Reed will have the first chance (to win the job).”

Reed, 21, played college football at Kansas State, and the 49ers took him in the fifth round of this year’s draft. He started Week 4 at free safety when Colbert was out with a hip injury.

“D.J. plays very hard,” Shanahan said. “He goes in there and runs and hits and does some good things. He’s still a rookie. He needs to play more. I know he’ll have some learning curve, but the game is not too big for him and we believe in him.”

The 49ers will face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Arizona’s quarterback, rookie Josh Rosen, has thrown four interceptions in five starts. Whoever replaces Colbert at free safety could have opportunities to make plays.

NOTES

The 49ers re-signed quarterback Tom Savage on Monday. He will take Colbert’s spot on the 53-man roster.

The 49ers originally signed Savage Oct. 16, then waived him on Oct. 20. Since he entered the NFL in 2014, he has started nine games, and his career quarterback rating is 72.5.

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