As a key matchup looms for the 49ers, who are seeking to prove their win over the Bears last Sunday was a return to the norm, and not an outlier, Sunday’s matchup looks to be dominated by injuries on either side. Both teams could be without monumentally important players.
Injury updates and game status reports
First, the players scheduled to return. Leading the line is George Kittle, who’s been out the last four weeks on injured reserve with a nagging calf injury.
Kyle Shanahan announced Friday that he and kicker Robbie Gould, who had also been on injured reserve, but with a strained groin, will be active on Sunday.
Jeff Wilson Jr., though, who had his practice window opened from the physically unable to perform list, is not guaranteed to return. While he looked comfortable and fluid in practice, his involvement may depend on the status off Elijah Mitchell, who is still working through a rib injury, and was in a blue non-contact jersey at practice on Thursday and Friday.
“One, it had to do with how he looked this week, he had a great week,” Shanahan said. “But that is only three practices in, but he looked as good and ready as he could be. So from a health standpoint and everything there was no question on that. Ideally, in the perfect world, I’d like to give him a couple more practices too. But with Elijah being questionable and the way he looked this week, that’s why it’s an option.”
Below are the 49ers’ game statuses:
Maurice Hurst (calf)
Jimmie Ward (quad)
Eljiah Mitchell (rib)
Deebo Samuel (calf)
Dee Ford (back)
Samuel was made available to media on Friday, which generally bodes well for a player’s gameday availability. He practiced in limited fashion on both Thursday and Friday and was working extensively with trainers before Friday’s practice. Shanahan said his calf injury is worse this week than it was last week.
As far as Ford goes, the water’s are muddier. His lingering back issue, which sidelined him for the entirety of last season, has flared up again. Shanahan said the 49ers initially believed it was concussion-related and there’s not a ton of clarity.
“Yes, that’s never fully gone away,” Shanahan said. “That’s something he’ll deal with most likely forever. So something that’s on again, off again. The reason it’s mentioned for the first time, is we think it came up with this concussion. Some of the symptoms presented as a concussion last week with the hit he took, but it acted up some stuff in the back that has been bothering him this week.”
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are likely in a much tougher situation than the 49ers, with J.J. Watt expected out for most of the year, and both receiver Deandre Hopkins and quarterback Kyler Murray’s status up in the air. Both of those two are questionable.
Javon Kinlaw’s update
In other news, the update on Javon Kinlaw, which was expected to be announced last week or earlier this week, was released on Friday.
It reveals that Kinlaw underwent a full ACL reconstruction, which, it should go without saying, is a massive surgery for a massive human. The former 14th overall pick has already been ruled out for the season, and both Shanahan and John Lynch have said they feel confident the problem with his knees has been found and now sorted.
Below is a joint Statement from Dr. Tim McAdams, Dr. Neal ElAttrache and the 49ers Medical Staff
“49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw recently underwent successful surgery to repair his right knee. As persistent symptoms limited Javon’s performance, we consulted with medical experts and determined that the best course of action was to perform surgery. Evaluation of the knee in surgery confirmed suspicions that the ACL had chronic changes that would be best treated with ACL reconstruction. This procedure gives him the best opportunity to make a full recovery and return to playing football in 2022.”