49ers hit with injury bug heading into regular-season finale

Jan 2, 2023, 3:56 PM | Updated: Jan 3, 2023, 10:50 am
Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers runs out during introductions against the Tampa Bay Buc...
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 11: Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers runs out during introductions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Off the heels of one of the most dramatic comeback wins of the season, the San Francisco 49ers have been hit with the injury bug once again.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday that linebacker Dre Greenlaw and left guard Aaron Banks could be missing some time due to injuries. Both players are expected to return at some point in the postseason, with Greenlaw expected back sooner than Banks.

Greenlaw suffered a back injury in the third quarter of Week 17’s clash with the Las Vegas Raiders. Initially down on the field in discomfort, the linebacker jogged off under his own power before returning to the game on the next snap. He did not return to the game on the next series however, seen struggling to put his shoes on in the locker room afterward.

Still working through tests to determine the severity of the injury, but the sense is that Greenlaw could be back for Week 18.

Greenlaw, 25, has been a breakout player for the 49ers this season, registering the most tackles on the team at 127 combined through 15 games played. He also has six passes defended, two forced fumbles and one interception.

Meanwhile, Banks had tests Monday to confirm that he suffered an ankle and knee sprain during the second quarter of Week 17. With an injury that has struck the Red & Gold on various occasions this season, the guard will miss the regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, with hope that he can return for the team’s first playoff game possibly a week later.

“I get the sense, yes [that they dodged a bullet],” Shanahan said about Banks’ injury. “We’re definitely going to miss Aaron for at least one game..But yeah, as bad as both of them looked, we didn’t know if it could be the whole season or not. So I do feel like we got some good news so far.”

A second-year offensive lineman out of Notre Dame, Banks has been pivotal in the unit’s play this season, ranking amongst the highest in Pro Football Focus blocking grades. Luckily, the 49ers have rotational guard Daniel Brunskill to fill in, doing so for the remainder of the contest in Week 17. The veteran has been the odd man in the starting lineup but will now serve a vital role in keeping the interior intact for San Francisco’s run-heavy scheme.

“Dan’s been huge,” Shanahan stated. “I mean, he’s played every spot for us. He’s won games for us…Dan’s one of the smarter O-lineman I’ve ever been around. That’s why he can play all these positions, even without being at those for a while. He can help make all the calls wherever he’s at…It’s nice when you have a guy there who’s played a lot of football that you know you can count on.”

Additionally, running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a mild ankle sprain in Sunday’s contest and is seen as day-to-day. Fellow RB Elijah Mitchell (knee) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (knee, ankle) will return to practice this week with the hopes of playing some snaps in Week 18.


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