No team has been more banged up than the SF 49ers this season, but there’s hope these five injured players coming back after Week 11 can help.
The SF 49ers currently have 29 players listed on various injury reports this season, currently two ahead of their division rival Seattle Seahawks and also making the Niners the team worst hit by injuries after 10 weeks of action.
While quantifying how those 29 players’ respective absences have affected head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad 4-6 record entering their Week 11 bye is nearly impossible, it’s silly to come to any other conclusion than the one suggesting that record would be significantly better if San Francisco had just a decent fraction of those players healthy.
There’s a strong sense the SF 49ers’ playoff chances are all but done this season, particularly with Football Outsiders giving them a 4.5-percent chance. And those won’t get much better considering the strong chance quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) and tight end George Kittle (foot) won’t come back until the very end of the season, if at all.
Yet the bye provides an extra opportunity for other injured players to return and contribute in the coming weeks, adding to the hope the Niners can make a push to squeak into the back end of the NFC playoff picture.
Here are five Shanahan and Co. can look forward to returning in Week 12.
No. 5: SF 49ers Cornerback K’Waun Williams
Shanahan told reporters it’s not likely nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams returns immediately after the bye week against the Los Angeles Rams.
But a week or two thereafter is much more likely.
Williams has missed the better part of the last two games with an ankle injury, giving way to reserve defensive back Jamar Taylor in his stead. Taylor recorded an impressive 74.0 game grade in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints, per Pro Football Focus.
Still, Williams is a clear-cut upgrade over Taylor and has far more playmaking ability.
Yes, San Francisco’s pass defense remains a top-five unit, and Taylor has helped with that. Yet there’s little questioning Williams makes the secondary much better.