The 49ers' relative luck on the injury front continues into their Week 6 game against the Browns, who'll be missing some key starters.
If there's one thing standing out about the San Francisco 49ers' 2023 campaign that's in contrast to other seasons under head coach Kyle Shanahan, it's the fact the Niners have enjoyed a relatively fully clean slate of health.
Sure, there have been some minor injuries here and there, including some to featured starters. But, for the most part, the serious injuries have been limited to role players and backups, not the key impact guys.
What's different? After all, in years prior, San Francisco has been one of the most injury-prone teams in the league.
Any injury that happens, we look into it and always balance reps out and stuff," Shanahan said this week when asked about injuries. "But, not much has changed over the last four years. I mean, subtle things, but not really."
Ahead of their Week 6 road game against the 2-2 Cleveland Browns, Shanahan and the 49ers are again on the positive side of the injury front, especially in contrast to their opponent.
Browns will be without QB Deshaun Watson, OG Joel Bitonio vs. 49ers
Cleveland is going to be without some key starters for the game, including quarterback Deshaun Watson who is dealing with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens.
In his place, the Browns are likely to start veteran backup P.J. Walker, who started last year with the Carolina Panthers under then-interim head coach Steve Wilks, who is now the Niners' defensive coordinator.
Additionally, offensive guard Joel Bitonio (knee) has been ruled out.
Tight end David Njoku (face, hand) and center Ethan Pocic (chest, knee, foot) are both questionable.
Dre Greenlaw is lone 49ers starter listed as questionable vs. Browns
San Francisco's Week 6 injury report isn't fully free and clear, and it does have a couple of notable names on it, namely linebacker Dre Greenlaw (hamstring) and running back Elijah Mitchell (knee).
But both are listed as questionable and could be gametime decisions, according to Shanahan, who said Greenlaw could easily go if healthy enough to play.
If Greenlaw isn't available, it's likely backup linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles or Oren Burks would get the start alongside All-Pro Fred Warner.
Mitchell, meanwhile, has been a healthy scratch the last two games and hasn't been able to support the starter, Christian McCaffrey, during that span.
Second-year pro Jordan Mason has primarily received the bulk of second-team carries in Mitchell's absence, which would be the case if Mitchell is unable to play this Sunday when both teams square off at 1 p.m. ET from Cleveland Browns Stadium.