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NEW ORLEANS — Weston Richburg’s leg injury Sunday could mean the 49ers use Ben Garland as their center for the rest of this season.
That was the feeling inside the 49ers’ locker room after their 48-46 win over the host New Orleans Saints.
“Losing Weston is big,” left tackle Joe Staley said. “He’s the center position and one of the captains for our group. You don’t want to see anyone go down.”
Other injured 49ers were defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring), cornerback Richard Sherman (hamstring) and nickel back K’Waun Williams (concussion), all of which casts their availability in doubt for next Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Richburg had to be carted off in the third quarter after his right leg crumpled when defensive tackle Shy Tuttle bent him backward on a third-down block. Richburg will undergo further tests Monday.
“Weston’s an awesome guy, an awesome player. You love having him out there,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “I feel for him. I’ve been there.”
Said coach Kyle Shanahan: “I don’t think it’s going to be too good. But we won’t know until probably tomorrow.”
While Richburg has thrived on the 49ers’ high-scoring offense this season, Garland barely has played, with just 29 snaps before Sunday’s relief duty against the Saints.
“We have a deep group,” Staley said, “and you’ve seen that all year, with myself being out so long and Mike missing some games, that guys step in and that talks to the urgency everybody has to be the next man up and show how special this team is.”
Garland is not foreign to the first-string duties, however. He spent all offseason and training camp as their starting center while Richburg recovered from offseason surgery that reattached his left quadriceps to his knee.
Once Garland replaced Richburg in Sunday’s wild shootout, Garoppolo said the 49ers offense adjusted fine, adding: “We didn’t really hesitate or anything. Guys on the sideline were locked in, Ben was ready to roll and it was next man up.”
Injured players who did not suit up against New Orleans were strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) and wide receivers Dante Pettis (knee) and Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot).
Sherman said he doesn’t know the severity of the hamstring injury that knocked him out the final series, only that it was too painful to return.
“If I could give us any chance to go back in, I would have. Unfortunately I would have just been a liability the way it was,” Sherman said. “We have a long week ahead of us to try to get us together. Don’t count me out until I’m out.”