Injuries piling up for 49ers' Marquise Goodwin

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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.

The following Wednesday during practice, Goodwin suffered his third injury of the season — a calf contusion.

So, Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks, he played only seven of 62 snaps — 11 percent.

Last Sunday against the Chicago Bears, Goodwin came off the bench again. He caught three passes for 29 yards, and re-injured his calf on the 49ers’ final offensive play while running deep and trying to catch a pass that landed out of bounds. That might have been his final play of 2018. It symbolized his ineffective season.

“It’s tough to be consistent when you’re not healthy,” Shanahan said.


Many 49ers would qualify, but when the writers’ tabulations came out, Joe Staley won the 2018 Garry Niver Award for professionalism with the media.

This is Staley’s 12th NFL season, but surprisingly his first season winning the Niver Award. He always has been one of the good guys on the 49ers. When people went over and informed Staley in the locker room that he won, he was appreciative and seemed emotionally affected. The award meant something to him.

“I try to make your guys’ job as easy as I can and be candid,” Staley said. “It gets me in trouble sometimes.”

The 49ers promoted undrafted rookie wide receiver Steven Dunbar Jr. from the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday morning.

Dunbar, 23, played college football at the University of Houston. He caught 180 passes for 2,430 yards and 11 touchdowns in 51 career games.

“Unless something crazy happens, expect him to play (this Sunday),” Shanahan said. “Being on the practice squad all year, he’s been up with the game plan every single week. He knows all the (wide-receiver positions) from a mental standpoint. He has gotten better throughout the year. He has real good hands, runs hard. He’s a big guy. Excited for him to get an opportunity.”

Dunbar got a limited opportunity to play with the 49ers during the preseason. He caught four passes — all from current 49ers starting quarterback, Nick Mullens, who began the season on the practice squad with Dunbar.

“Steven has been one of the most loyal 49ers this year,” Mullens said. “People don’t even know who he is yet. But he has caught all of my passes after practice every single day. We actually have maybe the best chemistry out of all the receivers.”

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