Joe Staley is out four to six weeks with a broken leg, according to Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News.
Although this is not indicative of certain doom for the 49ers 2010 season, it doesn't exactly help their chances of making the playoffs this year.
The starting left tackle was carted to the locker room with a leg injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 23-20 overtime win against the Saint Louis Rams. Fueled by a desire to help his team, Staley emerged minutes later when preliminary x-rays came up negative.
After the 49ers scored a go-ahead touchdown with roughly two minutes left in the fourth quarter, however, Staley felt another crack, and knew his day was done.
Although he will not be placed on the injured reserve, his absence over the next several weeks leaves the 49ers in a predicament similar to when Staley was injured last year against the Indianapolis Colts.
In Staley's stead, the 49ers started Barry Sims at left tackle, and he performed adequately. This year, Mike Singletary has stated that job will default to Sims or Adam Snyder.
Without the former first-round pick protecting the quarterback's blindside, offensive line coach Mike Solari is going to have a lot on his plate down the stretch.
Solari already has two rookies starting weekly in Mike Iupati, and Anthony Davis; a guard by trade (Davis Baas) permanently substituting at center for the injured Eric Heitman; and another injured big man in Chris Patrick.
Who should start at left tackle?
Luckily, however, the 49ers brought at least ten offensive linemen on their roster going into the season.
Other options could include Alex Boone and Tony Wragge. Wragge's versatility may make him more beneficial as a spot backup, but many fans are interested to see what the 6'7, 328-pound Boone has to offer the team.
Another fact to consider is how many fans have supposed Anthony Davis will eventually move to left tackle (where he played at Rutgers) but this might simply be too crucial of a time in the season for such a transition, and Davis has hardly dominated anybody on the right side at the pro level yet this year.
Sims, a 35 year-old, twelve-season veteran of the league, seems to make the most sense for now. The 300 pounder is no stranger to pressure, and shouldn't get caught off guard by any veteran moves that may get thrown his way. These are the situations you keep a clutch veteran like Sims around for.
Troy Smith, who has praised the offensive line in both his wins as a 49er, can likely help them out by using his quickness to buy time on passing plays.
The reconfiguration of the trenches is going to be a rough thing to accomplish now though, and there really isn't much time left to do it.