Alex Balducci, who at this time last year was a college nose tackle, could be the 49ers’ top reserve at center and both guard spots Sunday in Atlanta after the team placed center Daniel Kilgore on injured reserve.
The 49ers’ offensive line was healthy through 12 games but began the most recent contest without left tackle Joe Staley (hamstring) and then lost Kilgore early to a knee injury. Kilgore’s injury is considered season-ending because there are just three games left, but his 2017 season is not in jeopardy.
Those injuries prompted the 49ers to sign offensive lineman Josh Allen on Monday and promote Balducci from the practice squad. They also signed offensive lineman Mitchell Van Dyk, who most recently was with the Colts, to the practice squad.
“It’s next man up, and whoever that is, that’s who we roll with,” offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said of the team’s injuries.
The next man up is Balducci, who began transitioning to the offensive line after the 49ers acquired him as an undrafted free agent following the draft. Balducci played alongside current teammates Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner at Oregon.
During the offseason, Balducci found himself facing them. He said the switch has gone well, especially since he started getting repetitions at guard, which gave him a greater understanding of the offense. The biggest transition, Balducci said, has been in patience.
“Everything on defense is attack, attack, attack,” he said. “You get one (play) call and go. On offense, you have to wait things out and see how things develop.”
Staley didn’t practice Tuesday. If he’s unable to play against the Falcons, Zane Beadles would make his second straight start at tackle, Marcus Martin would start at center and Andrew Tiller would play left guard.
Reuland remembered – Tight end Konrad Reuland, who spent two offseasons with the 49ers, died Monday from complications from a brain aneurism he suffered Nov. 28.
Reuland, 29, played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and then was a member of Harbaugh’s practice squad with the 49ers in 2011.
“It’s completely unforeseen,” said linebacker Shayne Skov, who played with Reuland at Stanford. “It’s really sad. It’s hit the Stanford community and a lot of guys in the NFL hard. You can tell by people’s responses. They’re shocked. He was a great person and a great friend.”
Reuland ended up playing for the Jets and Ravens in recent years and was part of the Colts’ recent training camp. He was training in the Los Angeles area with the hope of joining an NFL team when he was stricken.
Colin Kaepernick was a 49ers rookie alongside Reuland in 2011.
“I spent quite a bit of time with him, knew him pretty well, had a couple conversations with him since he left,” the quarterback said. “I heard the news about him this morning. It’s one of those tragedies that you don’t see coming, you hope never happens to anybody, and he was always such a great person – very kindhearted. It’s painful, and I send my best wishes to his family.”
Et cetera – Receiver Torrey Smith observed Tuesday’s practice. Smith suffered a concussion in the third quarter Sunday and had to be carted off the field. Rookie Aaron Burbridge started in Smith’s place when Smith sat out a game in Week 11 due to a shoulder injury.
▪ The Seahawks signed running back Kelvin Taylor from their practice squad to their active roster. The 49ers drafted Taylor in the sixth round this year but released him last month.
▪ Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks did not practice Tuesday. The 11-year veteran did not appeared injured and may have been getting a day of rest.