SAN FRANCISCO – Tight end Vernon Davis and rookie safety Eric Reid both sustained their second diagnosed concussions in less than a year on Sunday.
And with a big game looming for the 49ers next week against NFC South-leading New Orleans, there is no guarantee either player will be available to return to action.
Davis sustained a concussion late in the first half, and Reid remained motionless on the ground for several moments after a third-quarter collision in the 49ers’ 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Candlestick Park.
The loss took a physical toll on the 49ers. In addition to the injuries to Davis and Reid, 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald did not play in the second half due to an ankle injury. And third tight end Garrett Celek was sidelined in the first quarter with a hamstring strain.
“Just saw them in the locker room, and they seemed as good as can be expected,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of his injured players.
The injuries to Davis and Celek prevented the 49ers from going with their short-yardage package. And that, in turn, prevented Harbaugh from going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Panthers’ 2-yard line late in the first half, he said. The 49ers settled for a short field goal.
“We were out of a couple of personnel groups we wanted to be in in that situation,” Harbaugh said. “Both Celek and Vernon Davis were out, and we needed some time to move some personnel around and accommodate that situation.”
Without Davis, one of the 49ers' key components in the passing game, the league's 32nd-ranked passing attack looked completely inept. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed just 11 of 21 passes for 91 yards. He was also sacked six times for minus-45 yards.
Reid, who has been outstanding as a rookie after taking over for Dashon Goldson this season, sustained the most troubling injury. Earlier this season, he sustained a concussion on a hit against Seattle wide receiver Sidney Rice. Reid sat out the remainder of the game but was cleared to play the following game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Reid has now sustained his second concussion in two months.
“You don’t want anybody to have them, but it’s football and it’s a part of the game,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said.
Davis sustained a concussion on Dec. 23 against the Seahawks on hit from safety Kam Chancellor. Davis also returned the following week.
As part of the NFL policy, neither player was available to speak to reporters after the game. Harbaugh said he did not have an immediate update on either player. Both Davis and Reid must clear the NFL’s protocol on concussions to be available to play against the Saints.