49ers catch injury bug break as McCaffrey, Samuel, Williams in doubt for now

Oct 16, 2023, 3:19 PM | Updated: 4:08 pm

Trent Williams #71 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after an injury during the first quarter again...

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After six weeks of football, the 49ers have finally been hit with the dreaded injury bug. Luckily, however, it doesn’t seem to be that bad, with most injuries viewed as short-term by the organization.

The San Francisco 49ers suffered their first loss of the 2023 NFL season Sunday to the Cleveland Browns. To make matters worse, the visitors lost several key offensive playmakers, including running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Williams. All three players exited at one point during the contest, with only Williams returning to the field.

Williams’ injury is seen as the biggest sigh of relief, with the offensive lineman suffering a low-grade ankle sprain. The ailment occurred in the second quarter, forcing him off the field for a few plays. The 35-year-old felt good enough to play through it, however, returning for the remainder of the game.

And while the tackle left Ohio with a walking boot on, his status for Week 7 is seen as day-to-day, a testament to the toughness of the player.

“You got to know how he is and stuff like that. I truly believe that if Trent [Williams] couldn’t [return], Trent’s not going to go. He’s going to do everything he can to be out there, but Trent is a very intelligent guy, who’s also very competitive and understands what those decisions are. And, he said he could come back, I wasn’t expecting him because of how bad the injury looked,” Kyle Shanahan said about Trent Williams Monday. “He didn’t show any limps and it was a pretty courageous effort by him coming out and in those circumstances, especially with the player he was going against.”

There is a little more uncertainty around Samuel’s injury though.

The wideout suffered a shoulder issue in the first half of the game and was eventually pulled from the contest at halftime. Shanahan believes the injury occurred on the first play of the game when Samuel took a jet sweep for eight yards. Samuel tried to play through the discomfort as the coaching staff watched on, only to get taken out of the game for further examination.

While the 49ers remain unsure of the severity of the injury, his status as day-to-day is trending in the right direction at least. San Francisco will take it slowly with him, however, wanting Samuel at full strength moving forward.

“That’s why we’re saying day-to-day,” Shanahan said. “We got to see how he recovers this week and how his body is going to handle it. You never know how those [injuries] react, so we’ll wait and see.”

Christian McCaffrey may have the most severe injury of them all, dealing with oblique and rib injuries.

The Pro Bowl running back got banged up against, eventually having to be looked at in the third quarter. Trying to stretch out on the sideline, McCaffrey returned to action for another play. But when it was apparent that he was laboring too much, he was pulled for the rest of the day.

CMC is still undergoing MRIs to determine the extent of the injuries, but for now, the 49ers hope it’s one or the other moving forward. Quarterback Brock Purdy played through the dual injury last year Week 14 in Seattle, but ballcarriers take more punishment based on the job description.

“Obviously a tougher position, just because you get hit a lot more. But we just got to see how it reacts,” Shanahan said. “We got to see exactly what’s wrong with it too, because we haven’t gotten that back yet. So we say oblique/rib, hopefully, it’s not both. But, we got to wait and see for sure.”

With the 49ers’ Bye Week nearing, San Francisco may elect to rest their star halfback, focusing on a long playoff run instead. If that’s the case, Shanahan and the coaching staff feel confident that the depth can fill the void for now.

Running back Jordan Mason got most of the complementary workload, rushing five times for 27 yards and a touchdown. Elijah Mitchell also got some work in his return from injury, carrying the ball two times.

“Hopefully Christian will be good to go this week,” Shanahan said. “But if not, we’ve got a group of backs we can rely on.”

The 49ers also got some good news on the injury front, as linebacker Dre Greenlaw is expected to return to practice this week. He missed Week 6 due to an issue with his hamstring.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Monday, October 23rd @ Minnesota Vikings – 5:15 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 29th vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, November 12th @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 10:00 AM PST
  • Sunday, November 19th vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 1:05 PM PST
  • Thursday, November 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 PM PST

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