SANTA CLARA – Inside linebacker Nick Bellore will get the first start of his six-year NFL career, the 49ers announced before Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Bellore will start in place of NaVorro Bowman, who was placed on injured reserve earlier in the day due to a season-ending left Achilles injury. Through most of his NFL career, Bellore has be used as primary a special-teams player.
"I’ve never viewed Nick as just a special teams guy," 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil said. "I think that Nick is a really good linebacker. I think he can play in this league. He played a lot for us when I was in New York at inside linebacker when we had injuries and he’s done a great job preparing himself. He knows the position. He knows how to play the game.”
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Gerald Hodges will return to the starting lineup, replacing Michael Wilhoite, the team announced. However, based on the team's warmups, it appeared Wilhoite would remain as the starter. Bellore and Wilhoite lined up together with the 49ers' first-team defense. Hodges started the first three games of the season before getting benched last week in favor of Wilhoite.
The 49ers will also be short-handed on the defensive line. Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who the 49ers were looking to move into a more prominent role, was ruled out with a knee injury. Dorsey played the past three games after missing the season opener. He is returning from a torn ACL he sustained in November.
Also, rookie defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is out of action with a foot injury he sustained in the 49ers’ 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
With Dorsey and Buckner unavailable, defensive lineman Taylor Hart is in uniform for the first time with the 49ers. Tony Jerod-Eddie, who was inactive the past three games, will also be available as part of the 49ers’ rotation.
San Francisco 49ers
Tight end Vance McDonald will miss his second game in a row after sustaining a hip injury on Sept. 25 against Seattle. Garrett Celek will start. He caught five passes for 79 yards as the 49ers’ primary tight end against Dallas.
Rashard Robinson earned his second start in a row in place of Jimmie Ward at right cornerback.
QB Christian Ponder
CB Jimmie Ward
WR Deshawn Martin
OT John Theus
TE Vance McDonald
DL Glenn Dorsey
DL DeForest Buckner
QB Carson Palmer
TE Darren Fells
DT Robert Nkemdiche
DT Ed Stinson
DT Josh Mauro
DT Olsen Pierre
G Cole Toner