49ers getting injured players back, but dealing with COVID

November 25, 2020

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — A week off was supposed to give the San Francisco 49ers some time to heal some of the slew of injuries that have derailed the 2020 season.

While San Francisco did get key players Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert and Richard Sherman among others back at practice for the first time in a while, they began the week of preparations for the Los Angeles Rams with seven players on the COVID-19 list.

“That’s the 2020 season for you,” running back Jerick McKinnon said Wednesday. “A lot of unknown stuff going on. The only thing you really can do is just adjust to it. The COVID and the guys that we’re losing this week is definitely unfortunate. But opportunities present itself for other people so those guys can have a chance to step up and make some plays as well.”

The 49ers took defensive lineman Arik Armstead and offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu off the list Wednesday. Grasu practiced but Armstead could only take part in the walkthrough before he’s cleared to practice Thursday.

But seven other players remain on the list and coach Kyle Shanahan is uncertain if any will be able to return in time to play Sunday in Los Angeles. The absent players are receiver Brandon Aiyuk, left tackle Trent Williams, defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Jones, defensive lineman Jordan Willis, linebacker Joe Walker and tight end Daniel Helm.

“This entire year has been just kind of trying to overcome adversity in all facets, whether it be injuries or whether it be guys on the COVID list,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “I spent some time on the COVID list prior to the season starting. It’s just some stuff that you can’t really control. When guys are back, that’s obviously going to help our team. You’ve got to focus on who we have available and making sure the guys that we do have are continuing to get better.”

The current issues with the coronavirus for the 49ers started when Armstead tested positive early last week. That forced the Niners to place several other players on the COVID-19 list because of “high risk” close contacts or other positive tests.

San Francisco had to shut down its facility last week during the bye, but things seem to be contained now and coach Kyle Shanahan expects the game to be played as scheduled Sunday in Los Angeles even if he will be missing some players.

“This has given us enough time to recover,” he said. “We’ve been good in our building for a number of days and stuff. It doesn’t look like it’s getting worse, at least in our building as long as we don’t get it in here, that would surprise me. It’s just going to make it tough to practice this week. We’ve got a number of guys out who probably won’t be back for the game. We’ll see how that goes.”

The good news this week for the Niners is the possible return of several of their injured players. Sherman (calf), Mostert (ankle) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (ankle) were scheduled to practice as their 21-day window to return from injured reserve has opened. Samuel (hamstring) and running back Tevin Coleman (knee) were limited at practice.

Shanahan said he will wait to see how the week goes before determining whether they can return on Sunday.

“They haven’t played in a while,” Shanahan said. “So we’ve got to be smart with them. The guys who have been playing, they got a lot of rest this last week so hopefully their bodies are fresher and stuff.”

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