SANTA CLARA — The 49ers have so many injuries, they need to sign a running back off the street just so they can practice and play preseason games.
They expect to sign free agent running back Alfred Morris once he passes a physical today. Then, he will join the team this week during their joint practices in Houston with the Texans, and possibly play against the Texans this Saturday.
The 49ers want Morris to play as soon as possible, because their top two running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, are out. McKinnon has a strained right calf.
Breida has a separated right shoulder. Both could miss the entire preseason.
On Monday, the 49ers had just three healthy running backs at practice: Raheem Mostert, Jeremy McNichols and undrafted rookie Jeff Wilson Jr. They took lots of reps and hits.
“Once you start losing guys, it adds a lot on another person,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after Monday’s practice. “Once you see a guy having to take reps with the twos and with the threes, it’s just a matter of time before that guy gets hurt.”
Morris is with the 49ers to prevent more guys from getting hurt. He will take excessive reps and punishment away from other healthy backs, like a human punching bag.