49ers dealing with running back injuries as they move on to Cincinnati

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Imagine running as fast as you can into a cement wall. Now imagine doing that multiple times over a three-hour period.

That’s the life of a running back in the NFL, and the San Francisco 49ers have dealt with injuries at the position throughout this season.

The injuries started piling up in the season opener when Raheem Mostert was lost for the season, and every halfback on the roster has missed time due to injury.

Following the loss in Seattle, rookie Elijah Mitchell and veteran Jeff Wilson Jr. are back on the injury report, leaving JaMycal Hasty as the only back able to fully participate fulling in practice on Wednesday.

Mitchell went down in the third quarter after taking a forearm to the side of the helmet but would return to the game after being evaluated by an independent doctor on the sidelines. Mitchell showed up on the injury report Monday, going into the NFL concussion protocol. Today it was revealed that Mitchell is also dealing with what the 49ers are currently calling a knee irritation.

In addition to Mitchell, Wilson Jr. is dealing with irritation in his surgically repaired knee and was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday.

The injuries led to San Francisco adding RB Brian Hill to the team’s practice squad and releasing S Tony Jefferson II from the practice squad.

Hill was originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Throughout his four-year career with the Falcons (2017-20) and Cincinnati Bengals (2020) he has appeared in 45 games and registered 209 carries for 982 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to go along with 38 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown. As a member of the Falcons in 2019, Hill had one carry for 16 yards in Atlanta’s upset victory over the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. In 2021, Hill spent training camp with the Tennessee Titans and was later waived on September 2, 2021. He was then signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad on November 9 and was released by the team on November 30.

Hill attended the University of Wyoming, where he appeared in 38 games and finished with 775 carries for a school-record of 4,392 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Kyle Shanahan was asked if Hill could be ready to go on Sunday when the 49ers take on Cincinnati.

“Yeah, I think that was our main factor in it,” said Shanahan. “He’s played in this league before and he’s been on some similar offenses, so we feel like he’d be the fastest to get ready.”

In other injury news, Fred Warner and Marcell were full participants on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, Shanahan is hopeful to have Deebo Samuel and Dee Ford back to practice tomorrow.

This article has 9 Comments

  1. It’ll be a tough game if either Mitchell or Wilson don’t play. Actually it could be a tough game even if they do. It sure seems like the Niners are snake bit when it comes to injuries. I think that to some extent their brand of football contributes to this but it sure seems to me that they get more than their fair share of injuries. The injuries really take away some of the enjoyment for me. It would be great although not possible to have every game played by a full compliment of players on both sides. Okay dream over.

  2. “Is it weird that we have had so many former Skins and Falcons on our roster : Hoyer, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Compton, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams, Tevin Coleman, Alex Mack, Mo Sanu ”

    I guess we can add Brian Hill to the list. Our CBs will have their work cut out for them. Bengals have 3 very talented receivers.

  3. For what it’s worth, Steve Young was on KNBR this morning (12/9), echoing my exact frustrations with Kyle’s inability to find a way to get Trey Lance onto the football field.

    And I get the sense that Steve is even angrier about it than I am about it! SMH!

    I’m not afraid to say what Steve Young was probably thinking, but couldn’t say: Calling Kyle Shanahan an “Offensive Genius” these days, is a lot like calling a yuppy who owns a FERARRI, but can’t figure out how to take it out of his garage for a spin – “Mario Andretti”

  4. The 49ers are now 6-6, and their season is literally on the brink, so it’s time to get back to discussing why the 49ers are where they are, even though I know that some of you guys would rather stick your heads in the sand, and hope for a miracle, even though deep down, you know that this team has major problems, and things needs to be said!

    Let’s start with 2.8 YPC – that’s what the 49ers averaged on the ground VS the Seahawks, despite having their top RB back in the lineup. That’s not a dynamic rushing attack! In fact, what it points to is that the “49ers vaunted rushing attack” that has carried the team over the last month, is really the same 49ers running game that struggled earlier in the season, the only difference is Deebo Samuel didn’t play. And the reality is, … Deebo isn’t a RB, he’s an elite WR. He doesn’t want to morph into a RB, nor should the 49ers want him to. Why? Well for one – it would be one of the dumbest football business decision a WR could ever make. And for another – Deebo has been averaging only 41 YPG receiving ever since Kyle started giving his a substantial number of carries per game, so if you guys understand the meaning behind the saying “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, then you understand why it’s not a valid long term strategy for the 49ers either, and it’s especially true when you factor in his injury history.

    Now imagine this same 49ers rushing attack, only with a numbers advantage, which is what you get with Trey Lance. Imagine how much better off the 49ers would be right now (both short and long term), if they were still a .500 football team, but instead of Garoppolo being their $26.4M “bridge QB”, they went with a $850.000 “bridge QB” like Gardner Minshew III this season, with Trey Lance being used in a specialized, clear cut role, in a similar way that the Saints have used Taysom Hill’s skill set over the last few years. Imagine how much better they could also potentially be next season, with a confident Trey Lance, along with a solid, affordable veteran backup (Minshew III) who, along with Lance, is also moving into his 2nd season under Kyle, and the kicker being that the 49ers would have an additional $25.6M in cap space to spend on shoring up the roster going into the offseason. An additional $25+M could potential be a game changer for this team , going into 2022, because not only do the 49ers not have another 1st round pick until 2024, they also have a large number of pending FA’s all over the roster!

    Now, you guys may try to paint his as hindsight, but it’s really not because a lot of people, including many smart people (for instance – Steve Young), who understand the dynamics of NFL football, understand the nuances of NFL roster-building, and understand the dynamics of the most important position in professional sports – the QB position, who were questioning the twisted logic of bringing Jimmy G back this season, long before the 49ers were swept by the Seahawks for the 2nd year in a row, in predictable fashion!

    And that brings me to Coach Kyle Shanahan, and his short, and his long-term team-building strategy –

    1. Many smart people, many of which have been covering the NFL for many years, have been pointing out the flaws in Kyle’s approach to team building, including the potential short and long term detrimental effects of bringing Garoppolo back this season, even as good of a teammate and human being as Jimmy might be. And perhaps more importantly, the potential risks of delaying not only Trey Lance’s development, but team-growth in general.

      The worst case scenario, IMO, was the scenario where the 49ers spend an unnecessarily large amount of money ($26.4M) to bring Jimmy Garoppolo back, and watch him play QB in the same flawed way that he’s been playing even before he blew out his knee and lost a significant amount of his athleticism and mobility. Keep in mind, the general consensus is that Jimmy’s inconsistency at QB have been holding the 49ers offense back for years, and those inconsistencies have already likely cost the 49ers their first Super Bowl loss in franchise history, and that’s not even factoring in his inability to stay healthy, which has also cost them dearly over the course of the last few seasons! In fact, Jimmy’s inability to stay on the field has already cost the 49ers 2 games again this season, because it’s simply unrealistic to expect a rookie like Trey Lance to come in cold, and win consecutive games, when he hasn’t even been practicing the 49ers actual offense, but rather he’s been spending the first 5 weeks of the season running the damn scout team. In fact an argument can be made that playing trey under those circumstances has actually done more harm than good, especially if we are to believe the 49ers own PR reports in regards to Trey Lance “losing confidence” as training camp progressed. It’s never a good thing when the most important player in franchise history is already losing confidence while his career is literally in it’s infancy, but that’s a topic worthy of an entirely separate conversation, IMO!

      Even with all of this, let’s get real … Jimmy Garoppolo is far from the only problems that continue to plague this football team! The fact of the matter is … the buck stops at the top: “Kyle Shanahan signed a six-year $21 million contract with San Francisco. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this new contract makes Shanahan one of the NFL’s five highest-paid head coaches.”

      Kyle Shanahan has a flawed approach to roster-building. Let’s start at CB. Kyle has been refusing to make CB a priority since, well, forever! Same goes for the interior of the OL, and OL depth in general. I was originally on board with choosing the cheaper Armstead over Buckner, and I still feel like that would have been the right decision, but I assumed that they would keep Armstead primarily on the interior of the DL, because that’s his natural position. That his versatility allows him to line up at DE without being a major liability isn’t the same thing as taking the majority of his snaps at DE, like he did last season. Who could have imagined that the 49ers would play Armstead out of position for an entire season? And if that isn’t bad enough, the 49ers used the 1st round pick that they got in exchange for Buckner – one of the most durable DT’s in the NFL – on Javon Kinlaw, despite the fact that he had a very “questionable” knee problem that had the potential to become chronic? This was such a massive mistake, I feel like somebody should have been fired for the Buckner-Armstead-Kinlaw debacle alone! In fact, how many blown 1st & 2nd round picks does it take to hold somebody accountable?

      And that bring me to the lack of accountability that has become a trademark of the ShanaLynch era, IMO!

      1. I’ll follow up on the lack of accountability that seems to be the way Kyle operates, later on this afternoon.

        Until then, have a nice day!

    2. I’m going to ignore your continued position on the quarterback situation as you have just repeated the same thing over and over and over. As for the YAC in the run game at Seattle the answer is one that everyone else but you know. Seattle’s strategy in the game was to stop the run by loading the box. They were successful in limiting our run game, however the game would have been won if one of the numerous mistakes made by any number of players had not been made. Since Deebo was injured and didn’t play, we don’t know how he would have fared in this game. We all know Deebo isn’t going to be a RB but his skill set allows him to do both and it helps the team as well as Deebo’s worth when his contract gets renewed.

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