© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The first 49ers-Seahawks game is nearly upon us. It will inevitably be a close, bizarre game, and it could result in Kyle Shanahan — potentially without three of his four running backs and without Deebo Samuel — dive deep into his bag of tricks.
Trio of returnees possible
After weeks of dealing with an always-thinning roster, there are reinforcements on their way, if not this week, then soon. All three of Tevin Coleman, K’Waun Williams and Jordan Reed had their 21-day return windows opened on Wednesday, meaning they have up to 21 days to practice before they would have to revert to injured reserve for the remainder of the year. They can come off injured reserve at any point in those 21 days.
Neither Coleman nor Williams were surprises, but Reed, less than five weeks removed from an MCL sprain and initially given a six-to-eight-week recovery timetable, has clearly recovered quicker than expected.
All three could possibly play on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but only Coleman will practice, in very limited fashion, on Wednesday, per head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan said Monday that he’d be a “late-week” decision. That’s the case for all three, but Coleman’s target is more for next Thursday’s game against the Packers.
“I think all three of those guys have a chance this week,” Shanahan said. “I’m hoping more for the Green Bay game [for Coleman], but I’m still holding out hope for this week.”
Hasty rejected offers to remain on practice squad
That means it is firmly JaMycal Hasty time. Hasty was used down the stretch in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams as the preferred back over Jerick McKinnon and got the lion’s share of the carries after Jeff Wilson Jr. went out with a high ankle sprain on his third touchdown run. McKinnon had three rushes for -1 yards on a day Shanahan said he was effectively using to rest him.
McKinnon will undoubtedly touch the ball more on Sunday, but he’s not an outside zone scheme fit. Hasty, meanwhile, is very evidently the best 1-for-1 replacement for Raheem Mostert. This has been evident from the outset of the season, and Shanahan seems to finally be relenting. He attacks the line of scrimmage with a natural burst, can bounce off tackles, and has demonstrated his receiving capabilities.
On 20 carries, he has 103 yards, good for the second-highest yards-per-carry average among the team’s running backs at 5.2 yards per. A quarter of those carries have picked up first downs, and his two receptions have netted 25 combined yards.
But Shanahan had to work to retain Hasty, who had other suitors. The 49ers and the team’s vice president of communications, Bob Lange, tried to get reporters the word to limit their specificity about what happened in training camp. Despite that, it was impossible to avoid mentioning that Hasty was very obviously a gifted runner and fantastic, cheap scheme fit.
“Your articles were written well and we got nervous about it,” Shanahan said. “We sent Bob [Lange] on ya, hoping you would chill out a little bit.”
He confirmed there were teams who “tried to come for him this year,” but Hasty chose to stay after the team laid out their plan for him. Instead, Hasty chose to remain on the 49ers’ practice squad and got his chance on the team’s active roster the following week.
The sales pitch to keep Hasty was to essentially stress what was obvious from the get-go; Hasty is a hand-in-glove scheme fit who will likely find a second contract by remaining with the 49ers. Shanahan said he stressed that the real, life-changing money is not in the bump from practice squad to active roster, but in that second contract.
“I really tell people the truth. It’s easier when you believe in someone like we do with him,” Shanahan said. “But I mean guys are so excited to get a start in the NFL and make a little more money that week, but I just try to tell guys, a week’s paid that might help your lifestyle for a little bit, but that’s not money that’s not gonna last you… you got to be in the right situation, the one that you think will be the best decision long term, not short term.”
The 49ers will send out an official practice report later on Wednesday, but Shanahan provided the following updates on practice for Wednesday
Tevin Coleman (MCL sprain) – Still on IR
Kwon Alexander (ankle sprain)
Richie James Jr. (ankle sprain)
Jaquiski Tartt (groin strain)
Jimmie Ward (quad strain)
Deebo Samuel (hamstring strain)
Jeff Wilson (high ankle sprain)
Jason Verrett (vet day)
K’Waun Willams (sprained knee, hip injury) – Still on IR
Jordan Reed (MCL sprain) – Still on IR