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The pandemic protocols have created unprecedented roster flexibility for NFL teams. Most significantly, teams can use without limitation the injured reserve designation along with a return in as little as three weeks.

The problem is that, when a player is placed on IR, it’s unclear whether he’ll be gone for a short time or a long time. 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman apparently will be gone only a short time.

“It happened like the last four plays of the game, I believe,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday regarding Sherman’s injury. “We were still waiting to see how it felt on Monday and later Monday afternoon we found that it was hurting a little more than he expected. Fortunately, we were able to do the IR to return. So hopefully won’t be too long.”

Given than Sherman previously has suffered a torn Achilles tendon, Shanahan was asked whether the current injury is an Achilles issue.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “They tell me calf, so I don’t hear about the Achilles. So I would think that’s good. He doesn’t sound too concerned about it. He just is going to need a couple of weeks, we think. Maybe a little bit more, but hoping it’s only three. That’s why we put him on IR.”

In past years, Sherman simply would have remained on the active roster and missed a few games. Now, the roster spot opens, in exchange for him definitely missing at least three games.