Teams usually say their bye week has arrived at just the right time. In the 49ers’ case, a week off is vital.
The 49ers head into their bye with as many injuries as they’ve had since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011, including one that will prompt them to groom a new starter on the offensive line.
Jim Harbaugh said center Daniel Kilgore suffered a broken ankle in the third quarter when an opponent inadvertently landed on the side of his lower left leg. An air cast was placed on the leg before Kilgore was taken off the field in a cart.
The injury forced rookie Dillon Farrell, who went undrafted out of New Mexico, into the game before he, too, left because of a sprained ankle. Farrell’s injury is not considered serious, and Harbaugh said Farrell will be in the mix to replace Kilgore.
The top option is another rookie, Marcus Martin, who was a third-round pick out of USC in May. Martin was playing well in the preseason when a dislocated kneecap put him out of action for nearly two months.
Martin, however, recently returned from that injury, and he practiced in full in the run-up to Sunday’s game. He did not play in Denver because he was one of the seven players the team deactivated before the contest.
Running back Frank Gore said he was certain offensive line coach Mike Solari will get Kilgore’s replacement ready to play when the 49ers resume play Nov. 2 against the Rams.
“We wish that (Kilgore) was here, but these things happen,” Gore said.
On defense, the 49ers entered the game without cornerback Chris Culliver, who was dealing with a hamstring strain, then lost another cornerback, Chris Cook, to the same injury. Linebacker Patrick Willis also missed the game because of a toe injury and nickel back Jimmie Ward sat out because of a strained quadriceps.
“It probably caught up to us today,” linebacker Ahmad Brooks said of the injury bug. “We have a lot of key guys out. That’s all I can say.”
Face in the crowd – Colin Kaepernick’s birth mother, Heidi Russo, was one of the faces in the crowd Sunday, according to The Denver Post.
Russo, who gave Kaepernick up for adoption when he was 5 weeks old and she was 19, lives in nearby Thornton, Colo. She and two other women run Three Strands, which serves as a resource for mothers who put their babies up for adoption.
Kaepernick was adopted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick of Wisconsin before the family moved to Turlock in the early 1990s. Kaepernick has resisted meeting Russo, has been adamant that Teresa is his only mother and has resented media members who have said he should reach out to his birth mother.
“Colin has made his wishes very clear, and I’m just respecting his wishes,” Russo told The Post. “... There’s never a day you don’t think about the child you placed or worry about them or think about them. And that’s not a bad thing.”
Tackle’s return – Anthony Davis started his second game of the season for the 49ers at right tackle, and he was part of an offensive line that surrendered a season-high six sacks.
Davis, who was dealing with shoulder and hamstring issues in the offseason, started Sept. 28 against the Eagles but suffered a knee injury in that game.
On Sunday, he mostly faced Denver’s top pass rusher, Von Miller, who finished with two sacks, one of them against Davis.
Smith back sooner? – Before the game, NBC Sports reported that Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension could be reduced by one or two games.
Smith has already sat out seven games, meaning he could potentially return for the 49ers’ next game, Nov. 2 against the Rams. Smith had been scheduled to return on Nov. 16 when the 49ers visit the New York Giants.
General manager Trent Baalke said he hadn’t heard about the possibility of a reduced suspension. A league source, however, said that it was “a possibility.”
Iupati update – Guard Mike Iupati went through warm-ups with the 49ers’ other reserve offensive linemen before the game. That means Iupati has been cleared for non-contact drills following last week’s concussion and only needs to pass a contact-drill test to be cleared entirely.