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Shanahan says Joe Staley underwent surgery on fractured finger, Kittle not ruled out despite confusion

A nightmare season for Joe Staley rolls on. Kyle Shanahan said on a Tuesday conference call that Staley had fractured/dislocated his finger and if he did need surgery, it would not be season-ending. Shanahan said Wednesday that Staley underwent surgery, which took place last night, according to the 49ers.

Shanahan said Staley will be out this week and “probably be out for a couple weeks.”

This means Justin Skule will return to start at left tackle, where he was from Weeks 3 through 9.

“I thought he did a very good job,” Shanahan said. “He came in there and stepped it up right away. Did a good job in his first game and I thought he got better each week.”

The head coach also ruled out nose tackle D.J. Jones for the week with a groin injury, and said George Kittle would not practice.

Immediately after his press conference, Shanahan told Cardinals reporters Kittle would not play on Sunday, saying: “We’re getting Celek back, but we won’t have Kittle.”

Shanahan had ruled out both Jones and Staley specifically in his opening comments with Bay Area reporters and said Kittle had not practiced, insinuating his status would come into focus later in the week. His designation came as a surprise after Shanahan said on Tuesday that Kittle had a chance to play. Here was his exact quote:

“Kittle is a little bit of a different bird, we’re never going to decide on Kittle too early in the week,” Shanahan said. “He’s always got a chance with some of the stuff he’s been able to go through here in these last couple years.”

Per a 49ers team spokesperson, Shanahan’s comment was made in error. He meant to say that Kittle is unlikely to play and he has to prepare like he will not play. Kittle has not been ruled out.

The full practice report is as follows:

  • Did not practice: LB Azeez Al-Shaair (concussion), RB Matt Breida (ankle), K Robbie Gould (right quadricep), DT D.J. Jones (groin), TE George Kittle (knee, ankle), WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs), T Joe Staley (finger)
  • Limited in practice: TE Garrett Celek (back), DE Dee Ford (quadricep), RB Raheem Mostert (knee), WR Dante Pettis (back), TE Levine Toilolo (groin), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot, quadricep)

Notes: Shanahan said Witherspoon would need to practice every day this week to start on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. It’s unclear if him being limited as opposed to a full participant rules that out. Sanders is viewed as day-to-day and is a possible game-time decision. Shanahan said he does not need to practice in order to play on Sunday: “Emmanuel can watch and learn. He knows what we’re doing.”


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