Kyle Shanahan Confirms Mitchell Diagnosis, Not Sure on Kittle’s Status

Sep 12, 2022, 4:48 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2022, 9:02 am
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Chicago Bears at Soldier F...
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers looks on against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The hits just keep on coming for the 49ers. After Sunday’s second-half collapse to the Chicago Bears, more bad news rolled in Monday morning when it was reported that starting running back Elijah Mitchell would be out two months with a sprained MCL. News that unfortunately, head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Monday afternoon.

“He was pretty down,” Shanahan said Monday via conference call. “We’re down for him. You know Elijah went through a lot last year, full of documented injuries he had. He had really worked hard this offseason, he was feeling really good going into that game and man I thought he looked really good before he got hurt. Just an unfortunate hit that he had, trying to tell him to ‘keep his head up’, anybody who would have got caught in that situation would have gotten hurt.  I mean with the way his foot planted in the ground and the guy hit his knee. I think we’re just real fortunate it wasn’t worse.”

The second-year running back out of Louisiana-Lafayette will likely miss eight weeks of action as he heads to short-term IR for the time being. The injury occurred midway through the second quarter when Bears safety Eddie Jackson dove at Mitchell’s knee, pushing it inward at an awkward angle. San Francisco will need to rely on the combination of “wideback” Deebo Samuel, and RBs Jeff Wilson Jr., Jordan Mason and Ty Davis-Price, with the later two being rookies.

“They’re two talented players who we think can help us a lot running the ball, but they gotta grow up fast,” Shanahan said. “With injuries and stuff, they’re going to have more opportunities to get some carries and things like that obviously, but they got to grow up and get this experience while on the run.”

Mitchell burst onto the scene in 2021, racking up 1,100 scrimmage yards and six TDs in his rookie year. Unfortunately, the former Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajun has dealt with injuries since coming to the league, only playing in 11 games due to various injuries last season.

Other injuries from the game include defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, suffering an ankle sprain Sunday in Chicago. Shanahan deemed the injury “not serious” as they do not expect it to hinder his availability going forward. As for George Kittle, who suffered a groin injury last Monday that kept him out of Week 1, Shanahan explained that while his tight end is feeling better, he’s not sure when he’ll be back. The team returns to practice on Wednesday.

“I hope he’s ready to go [practice] Wednesday, but we’re not sure yet. I know he’ll be working to get back this week,” Shanahan said.

As for the game itself, Shannon was impressed with the play of second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga and former pro-bowler Tashaun Gipson Sr. Sunday, stepping in for the injured Jimmie Ward.

“I was really impressed with their play. [Hufanga] was all over the place. I mean, it seemed like that live [in-person] and I felt even stronger once I watched it. Gipson had a huge challenge stepping into playing for Jimmie Ward. He has looked good in practice all week and it was awesome to get him out there,” Shanahan said.

They were the only two standouts on the defensive side of the ball however, playing a big role in the 12 penalties committed against the Bears. The 49ers had a similar game against the Buccaneers in Week 1 a few years back, committing unnecessary personal fouls on now Saints quarterback Jameis Winston that could have cost them the game.

But Shanahan feels those calls are all coincident and can happen whenever you face a mobile QB like Winston or Justin Fields this week.

“I think it was more coincidental,” Shanahan said. “I think the personal fouls were stuff that happens when you have a running quarterback, and stuff we got to be a lot better at…So that’s kind of the challenge with hat stuff. It’s tough to win when we commit those penalties and that starts with me, and we got to make sure to clean those up. I felt we had every opportunity to win that game and our defense had every opportunity to completely dominate that game. And that’s what allowed them to get three touchdowns in a row.”

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