Niners need Flanigan to fill rotation void

This wasn't the way Jim Flanigan had it planned, missing his first game as a 49er last week to end his streak of consecutive games played at 90. This wasn't the way the 49ers had it planned, either, as Flanigan's strained left hamstring left the team scrambling at defensive tackle against the New York Giants – and left starters Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield on the field virtually the entire game.

That's no exaggeration. The Niners claimed tackle Garrett Johnson off waivers Sept. 2, but he did not play against the Giants. The Niners did not feel comfortable going with end Jerome Davis inside, so they went almost exclusively with Young and Stubblefield after Flanigan was made inactive in a game-day decision.


"Stubby and B.Y. actually had to play more than they should," Mariucci said. "I think one had 71 snaps and one had 68. Our hope was to alternate those guys better than that so they could stay fresh toward the end. I imagine they got a little tired, but they sucked it up."


Flanigan watched from the sidelines with frustration, but he says it will be different this week against the Denver Broncos. He was upgraded Thursday from questionable to probable on the injury report, and he plans to start a new streak this week.


"I don't see any problems," he said. "I'm dying to get back out there. It was pretty disheartening to miss the opener and miss my first game as a 49er."


Flanigan definitely was missed. The ninth-year veteran, who has 45 career sacks, was signed as a free agent in the offseason to rotate regularly with Young and Stubblefield. His projected role increased further when the team released fourth tackle Reggie McGrew at the end of August.


The Niners are counting on Flanigan. But their D-line rotation was left dangling without him.


"It just wasn't ready to go last week," Flanigan said. "It was extremely frustrating. But it's feeling pretty good now. The rehab's gone well, and I'm on track for Sunday."


And just in time. The Niners signed second-year tackle Ross Kolodziej last week to add another body at the position, but this is the only rotation of players they want on the field: Young, Stubblefield and Flanigan.

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