The San Francisco 49ers have two games left in their tumultuous season, and injury-wise, and opponent-wise really, things aren’t getting any easier.
The 49ers will be the road team in Saturday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, and though one player may return to the field, a few others will be noticeably absent.
It looks like tight end George Kittle will be back on the field Saturday. Kittle, who has missed the last six games with a broken bone in his foot, was limited in practice last week, but 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan believes he will be ready for game time. With the 49ers at 5-9 and eliminated from playoff contention, there could be question as to why play the All-Pro tight end at this point. Shanahan had a really good answer.
“If he’s healthy, I just don’t see the reason why not to. That’s the same as every other player on our roster. If you’re healthy and you’re not risking something, I mean we would never ask him to play injured or anything like that, but he had a good week of practice last week. Most of the soreness was going away and we’re definitely going to test it again this week. But, when you have a guy, if he’s a hundred percent healthy and stuff, how do you sit one guy and then look at everybody else in the eye on the team? There probably isn’t anybody playing out there a hundred percent healthy right now…
“[T]here’s a respect level that players have towards each other and everyone goes through this whole thing. Players risk, every time they step on the field, no matter who you are, you’re risking your career. That’s what’s tough about this sport and that’s why I don’t think players get paid enough, even though a lot of people would disagree with me on that. There’s not many people in the world that can do what you do and you’re risking your future every time you go out there and that’s no different for George. It’s no different for all the other 52 guys on our roster. So, obviously I don’t want to get George hurt or anything like that, and that’s why we’re going to be overly cautious with it and that’s why we have been, but if someone’s a hundred percent healthy, I can’t look the rest of the team in the eye and tell them they have to play, but George doesn’t. So, that’s just part of having a team and part of treating people the right way.”
The Quarterback Situation
The 49ers found themselves in a bit of a pickle at quarterback.
#49ers current QB situation
C.J. Beathard is healthy
Nick Mullens has a serious elbow injury
Jimmy Garoppolo's practice window has been opened
Josh Johnson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list
Jerick McKinnon is their emergency QB
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) December 22, 2020
Nick Mullens suffered an injury to his right elbow during Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys and Shanahan said that Tommy John surgery is a possibility. Jimmy Garoppolo returned to practice Tuesday, but Shanahan said he would be “very surprised” if Garoppolo played in the final two games of the season. Practice squad quarterback Josh Johnson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. C.J. Beathard is not only QB1, but he was also the one QB.
Enter Josh Rosen, who San Francisco signed off of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad and on to the 49ers active roster. Rosen was the Cardinals’ 2018 first-round draft pick, so he’s familiar with Glendale and State Farm Stadium. Ironically, two of his three NFL victories have come against the 49ers.
Sometimes, you can both beat them and join them https://t.co/BWaxukeqbw
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) December 23, 2020
Raheem Mostert and Richard Sherman
Running back Raheem Mostert is done for the season, after re-aggravating a high-ankle sprain that has bothered him all season. Richard Sherman is still dealing with the calf injury that has kept him out most of the season, and though he hasn’t been ruled out, it’s not looking good.
“…I know he’s hurting today,” said Kyle Shanahan. “You could tell he was hurting in the game, too. I mean, we’re only two days removed from the game, so we’ll see how it goes later in the week, but not going to make that decision now, but anyone who is not healthy and hurting is definitely a guy who might not play.”
The Pro Bowlers
Linebacker Fred Warner (1st), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (5th) and left tackle Trent Williams (8th) were selected to the Pro Bowl this week. Here’s what they had to say about the honor.
“It’s just one of those things where you’ve come to the league and you have individual goals that you set for yourself,” Warner said. “And so to be able to check one of those off is huge. And I think any individual accolades in this league are always a team award. Football…is the truest team sport in the entire world. And so I can’t do what I do without my teammates. And I know Trent and Kyle will say the exact same. So I just got a great group around me and I’m very grateful, very blessed.”
“I actually got a call from Bobby yesterday, [Seattle Seahawks linebacker] Bobby Wagner him congratulating me. We text back and forth about different things throughout the season and he was one of the first to call me to congratulate me…So that was special.”
“I think I’m more happy for Fred getting this first one than me getting my fifth, to be totally real with you. Just because I know how important that first one is. And my first nod, that one definitely means the most. It’s the hardest one to get. You really have to kind of break through, and I’ve told him he’s got the hardest one out of the way and now they’re going to start coming easier for him, because people know his name and then, rightfully so, the guy’s an absolute baller. He’s been playing out his mind, not just this year, but the past couple of years. But I’m just really happy to see him get that recognition because he deserves every bit of it.”
“…[I]t never gets old. Every year it’s just as special at the last. But this year, I think it’s far more special to me, just because of what I had to overcome with last season, last year and a half, I think it was the mountain climb for me. And I feel like being able to be recognized by my peers as one of the best in the game just gives me that confidence to think that my game is back where it’s supposed to be.”
*Featured Image of George Kittle provided by the San Francisco 49ers