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The season is not over, Kyle Shanahan asserted, convincing no one except perhaps himself. There is a chance the 49ers could still make the playoffs despite every indicator pointing to that being a fantasy.
Shanahan, giving a halfhearted defense of Jimmy Garoppolo, said he expected him to return this season, which, again, is not over.
“I expect him to come play with us this year,” Shanahan said. “We have six games left. We are not out of the playoffs yet. I’ve been on a team (the 2012 Washington Football Team) that was 3-6 going into a bye week that ended up winning their division. I think we have guys on this team capable of finishing this the right way. We got to do it one game at a time.”
Five players hoped to return
San Francisco began the day by placing strong safety Johnathan Cyprien and running back JaMycal Hasty on injured reserve. Cyprien sustained a hamstring injury and will be out at least three weeks and Hasty fractured his collarbone and will be out for the season. Safety Jared Mayden was placed on practice squad injured reserve with a quad strain and is likely out for the year.
Shanahan said he is “hopeful” that five players could all return against the Los Angeles Rams next week:
- Raheem Mostert (high ankle sprain)
- Richard Sherman (calf)
- Deebo Samuel (hamstring)
- Tevin Coleman (knee sprain)
- Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (hamstring)
He said the following two players have outside chances at returning for the Rams game, and are more likely to return the following week:
- Jeff Wilson Jr. (high ankle sprain)
- Mark Nzeocha (quadriceps)
Shanahan’s bye week message: It’s not on the returners to right the ship
While the returns of Sherman, Samuel and Mostert are absolutely massive, Shanahan made a concerted effort to say that they will not be the reason to win the 49ers their remaining games, of which they need to win at least five of six to go 9-7 and have a realistic chance to make the playoffs.
He acknowledged the returns will be a “huge boost,” but that all of those five players will be rusty.
“I echoed to the guys today that we’re not going to win just because these guys are coming back,” Shanahan said. “I mean, these guys haven’t played football in a while. And usually when they do come back, it takes them a week or so to get into it to really affect a game. We’re gonna win based off of whether the guys that we have get better or worse.”
He commended the effort of his team in the past few weeks while calling out a handful of players who have been very good, but not touching their ceiling
“Brandon Aiyuk; he has been playing great. He can take it to another level. So can Jason Verrett, so can Jimmie Ward, so can Kinlaw, so can Trent Williams.
“But I mean getting Deebo back, getting Raheem back, Sherm. That stuff’s going to help big and that’s some juice we need. But we also don’t have much room for error with where our record is right now. So I can’t count on those guys just to come in and change everything. I just want those guys to get healthy and be a part of it.”
Could be other additions to COVID-19 list, and Takk McKinley back in play
Arik Armstead was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday and Shanahan said other additions were imminent.
“He did have some close contacts,” Shanahan said. “I mean, when we get them all they’ll be on the list… He’s gonna have some close contacts. But we’re still waiting to see who those are.”
A 49ers team spokesperson was quick to try and pour cold water on the statement, saying that the team, despite Shanahan’s comments, doesn’t yet know if there were any close contacts.
Were Armstead to miss time, one name that could at least theoretically provide support for San Francisco on the defensive line is Takkarist McKinley, who was waived by the Atlanta Falcons and claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals. McKinley failed his physical, though, and has reverted to waivers.
The 49ers put in a claim for him the first time, and Shanahan said they will do so again, with the No. 12 priority spot on the waiver wire. If only the same teams put in claims for him (the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns being the other two), the 49ers would get McKinley.
The #Raiders, #Browns and #49ers put claims in for Takk McKinley last time around when he was awarded to the #Bengals. Let’s see if any of those teams tries again now that he’s back on waivers after his failed physical.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) November 17, 2020