No. 2: Bye week allows the 49ers to heal up
What was especially impressive about the 13-3 record, is that San Francisco had to deal with a lot of injuries to key personnel.
While some players are well and truly out for the season, the bye week allows the team to rest up and maybe even welcome back some we didn’t expect to see.
Safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) and EDGE Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) are close to returning, and the week off could see them return to the 49ers for the divisional game against either the Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings or Philadephia Eagles (depending on results, Niners will get the lowest seed).
To have these two back would shore up the defensive ranks and allow the 49ers to both rush the passer and cover more effectively.
The big question, however, is if linebacker Kwon Alexander make a shock return to the team?
Suffering a torn pectoral against the Arizona Cardinals on Halloween, the expectation was it was an injury which would sideline him for the rest of the season. However on the back of some impressive workouts, there’s a possibility he could yet return if the 49ers advance in the playoffs.
While not confirming outright, head coach Kyle Shanahan had this to say on the return of Alexander:
"He’s coming along. There’s definitely going to be a chance. I don’t think that will be this week, but if we’re fortunate enough to win our first game, I think he could have a chance after that. We’re still holding out hope for that, but we’ll see how it goes over these next couple weeks."
Whether Alexander is good enough to return may be the most intriguing story on the 49ers’ week off.
This isn’t restricted to the defense, either. While he dressed for both games, guard Mike Person has been out for the last two games with a neck injury. His return would help bolster the 49ers blocking.
Winning Week 17 is crucial, the 49ers have a chance to now be as healthy as they possibly can.