SANTA CLARA — Marquise Goodwin may never start another game for the 49ers. His problem is injuries. He suffers too many to be a starter.
Goodwin, 28, has not started since Week 10 — he has come off the bench. And he could miss the 49ers’ season finale this Sunday against the LA Rams with a calf contusion, which forced him to sit out practice Wednesday afternoon.
Goodwin injured his calf Week 14 against the Seahawks, then re-injured it last Sunday against the Chicago Bears while filling in for starter Dante Pettis.
Pettis left that game during the second quarter with a knee injury. He did not return. In his absence, Goodwin played 38 snaps — the most he played since Week 10 — but caught just three of eight targets for only 29 yards.
“It definitely would help him to not have to be out there as much,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday afternoon.
The 49ers want to reduce Goodwin’s workload.
Before Goodwin signed with the 49ers in 2017, he was an injury-prone backup who missed 25 games in four career seasons with the Buffalo Bills. But he seemed to come into his own with the 49ers. He started all 16 games in 2017, and caught 56 of 105 targets for 962 yards and two touchdowns.
By the end of last season, Goodwin was the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver. He seemed like an ascending player. Created big expectations for 2018.
But he didn’t deliver. So far this season, he has missed four games and caught just 23 of 43 targets for 395 yards and four touchdowns.
“He has just been very inconsistent, especially with his health,” Shanahan said. “He hasn’t missed a ton of games, but he definitely has missed some. And when he has been able to go, he hasn’t been 100 percent throughout those games.”
Goodwin was 100 percent healthy for roughly 17 minutes of game time this season.
His first injury occurred two minutes into the second quarter of the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Goodwin ran into defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, bruised his quad, left the game, came back but caught no passes and missed the next week against the Detroit Lions.
Goodwin returned Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs and played through the quad injury. But in Week 4, he suffered a new injury while facing the Los Angeles Chargers. This time, he pulled his hamstring, and sat out the 49ers’ Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Goodwin returned once again Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers, and played his best game of the season. He caught four passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
From Week 7 to Week 10, Goodwin started every game for the 49ers and played 86.2 percent of their offensive snaps.
But he didn’t produce much.
He caught just nine passes total during that time.
Week 11, the 49ers had their bye week. When the players came back to the team for Week 12, Goodwin didn’t. He stayed away for unspecified personal reasons and Pettis took his job as a starter.
Goodwin never took it back. He returned to the field Week 14 against the Denver Broncos, but as Pettis’ backup. Goodwin played just 24 of 72 offensive snaps in that game — 33 percent.