Shanahan will use a “hot-hand” approach with the running backs Sunday

Sep 14, 2022, 1:40 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers looks on agai...
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)

Sunday’s Week 1 loss in Chicago was bad for there 49ers for a plethora of reasons.

First, they lost to the Bears after letting the home team score 19 unanswered points in the second half. And secondly, San Francisco lost their starting running back for the next two months.

News Monday confirmed that second-year RB Elijah Mitchell suffered a sprained MCL right before the second half, and is now heading to short-term IR. Facing a two month layoff, the 49ers are now thin at an area of strength just a week ago.

The Red & Gold have been quick to address the matter, adding veteran RB Marlon Mack to the practice squad Tuesday.

The move gives head coach Kyle Shanahan and the offense some more options at the position, but insists that the backfield will be fluid this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

“This week we’ll get a feel for him [RB Jordan Mason] on these three days and we’ll go with the hot hand in the game,” Shanahan said Wednesday.

The backfield for the 49ers now consists off Jeff Wilson Jr., rookies Jordan Mason and Ty Davis-Price, and Mack.

As for other injuries, Shanahan announced that TE George Kittle (groin) and OL Daniel Brunskill (hamstring) would not be returning to practice Wednesday. The former has been dealing with a groin issue stemming from the team’s Labor Day practice, unable to suit up for Week 1 against the Bears.

Kittle did make the trip to the Windy City but was ruled out Saturday night by team doctors.

“In his mind, he’s ready to go every single day,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “And a lot of times he’s right, but you also got to know that business mentality and that’s not going to change, so we do have to protect him from himself in that way and that’s why it’s kind of a team effort with deciding when the best is going.”

Now out to open the practice week, uncertainty remains if he’ll be good to go in the home opener Sunday.

Other injury notes include LT Trent Williams who did not practice (rest), but was doing light conditioning off to the side Wednesday. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was limited to start the week.

As for his starting quarterback Trey Lance, the 49ers haven’t had a dual threat signal caller since Colin Kaepernick was on the roster. Lance used his wheels Sunday in Chicago, racking up 54 yards on 13 carries.

While Shanahan wants to make sure he protects his quarterback of the future at all costs, he knows that his 6’4″ prospect can take a few licks in the game.

“I just compare it to all the quarterbacks in the league who run and there’s times to slide, there’s times to take edges and dive,” Shanahan started to explain. “There’s going to be some that he gets hit on and there’s gonna be some that he can protect himself and that’s up to him and us to work through.”

Lance added onto that Wednesday, saying that he came away with a sore neck the next day, but more so because he didn’t get hit during the offseason.

In regards to his traditional quarterback abilities, the head coach sees no problems after only throwing for 164 yards and an INT against the Bears, especially with his processing of the field.

“He was pretty good in practice, and he had one game right there and he gets better at that each week,” Shanahan stated.

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