49ers lose Ward and Patton to injured reserve

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Cornerback Jimmie Ward and receiver Quinton Patton exited the team's 41-13 loss Sunday in Atlanta and will be unavailable for the final two games, joining a slew of starters on the shelf.

''That's just the nature of this league,'' offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said Tuesday. ''I wouldn't say we are the only ones that have to deal with (injury problems).''

Ward, a first-round pick in 2014, was emerging as one of the team's most talented defenders at his new position of cornerback. He sustained a shoulder injury, marking the second season of his thee-year career he'll end on the injured list.

Ward sustained a fractured foot during his rookie season that forced him to miss the final eight games. Patton left the game in Atlanta after suffering a foot injury on the first play of the second quarter. The 2013 fourth-round pick is unsigned beyond the season.

Patton finished second on the team with 37 receptions for 408 yards, starting all 14 games on San Francisco's 29th-ranked offense.

The 49ers placed five starters on injured reserve over the last week. Additionally, left tackle Joe Staley (hamstring) has missed the last two games while receiver Torrey Smith missed the loss to the Falcons after sustaining a concussion the previous week against the Jets.

Taking Ward and Patton's spots on the 53-man roster are receiver DeAndre Smelter and cornerback Prince Charles Iworah.

Smelter was selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft, but hasn't played in a game since the previous fall, when he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament tear with Georgia Tech. Iworah was a seventh-round pick last spring and has been a member of the practice squad season the start of the season.

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