49ers could receive much-needed reinforcements vs. Cardinals
By Peter Panacy
While the 49ers have dealt with significant injuries as of late, there’s good news on that horizon as the team prepares for a key bout with the Cardinals.
The San Francisco 49ers just played their most complete game of the year in Week 8, beating the Chicago Bears on the road by a score of 33-22.
While the game was far from perfect, it was arguably the best team-wide showing head coach Kyle Shanahan has had this season, getting top production from his offense without his defense completely crumbling to rookie quarterback Justin Fields and Co.
Now, with the Niners boasting a 3-4 record and half a game out of the final NFC Wild Card spot, Shanahan will now hope the recent swing in momentum can keep up with San Francisco hosting the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals in Week 9.
Yes, Arizona already beat the 49ers earlier this season by a score of 17-10, a game where rookie quarterback Trey Lance was tasked with matching up against one of the league’s top MVP candidates, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
But Murray might be sidelined with an ankle injury suffered in Week 8’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. And while Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been elusive with announcing whether or not Murray can start, or if the Cardinals will be forced to turn to No. 2 quarterback Colt McCoy in relief, Shanahan can at least count upon getting some much-needed reinforcements back into the fray.
49ers to likely get George Kittle, Dee Ford and others back vs. Cardinals
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who enjoyed his best game of the season in Week 8, won’t be absent again this time versus Arizona.
But the Niners are also going to potentially get back a number of their other key players, many of whom missed the Bears contest, and some who have been out even longer.
Tight end George Kittle, who landed on injured reserve with a calf injury after the first four games of the season, is going to practice this week. Same goes with kicker Robbie Gould, who was dealing with a groin injury. If both players are able to practice well enough, San Francisco will have to make corresponding transactions to add them back to the roster. In Gould’s case, fill-in kicker Joey Slye was waived, suggesting Gould will be close to 100-percent available.
Read More: 4 stats from Week 8 that suggest 49ers have turned a page
Additionally, the 49ers may see the 2021 season debut of running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who suffered a meniscus tear during organized team activities last offseason and was shelved on the reserve/physically unable-to-perform list to start the year. Wilson, who led the Niners with 10 touchdowns in 2020, might force Shanahan to juggle his depth chart, which has seen rookie Elijah Mitchell claim the No. 1 running back spot over fellow rushers JaMycal Hasty and Trey Sermon.
Or, just as possibly, Wilson could be stashed for at least another week to ensure a full recovery.
EDGE Dee Ford and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who both missed Week 8 while being in the concussion protocol, have also since been removed and are returning this week.
Good news for San Francisco’s defense, which was notably shorthanded against Fields and the Bears in Chicago.
The 49ers kick off against the Cardinals on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.