49ers can't count on returning starters as answer, Kyle Shanahan says

Jennifer Lee Chan
·3 min read

Shanahan urges 49ers to give injured players reason to return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With a record of 4-6, the 49ers' hopes of reaching the playoffs surprisingly are still alive.

The 49ers currently have 16 players on injured reserve and several more out due to injury, though they hope to get several players back following the bye week, including Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Tevin Coleman and Richard Sherman. While coach Kyle Shanahan knows that getting his starters back on the field will help the team’s chances of winning, their presence alone will not be enough to guarantee more victories.

“I have high expectations for our team and I know our team does also,” Shanahan said Tuesday. “We’re going to get some guys back who help us, but we can’t count on those guys coming back like they are just going to be the answer. 

“Those guys can help, but we need everyone who has been playing to get a lot better, coaches included and I believe that we can.” 

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The 49ers currently sit at the bottom of the NFC West division, but are one game within the eighth spot in the conference. An expanded playoff scenario would make a wildcard berth a possibility. 

With that in mind, Shanahan is still hopeful that Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle will be healthy enough to come back before the season ends, but he also wants to give them a reason to return. 

“We just got to take care of business here in these next few weeks and give them a reason,” Shanahan said. “That stuff is going to help big and that’s some juice we need, but we also don’t have much room for error with what our record is right now, so I can’t count on those guys to come in and change everything.”  

Shanahan has noticed the boost the team has gotten at practice by just having players like Sherman on the field as a mentor and coach. He still emphasized to his team on Monday that everyone needs to do their part. He even cited players like Brandon Aiyuk, Jason Verrett and Trent Williams to achieve even more. 

“We’re not going to win just because these guys are going back,” Shanahan said. “These guys haven’t played football in a while and usually when they do come back, it takes them a week to get into it and to really affect a game. 

“I just want those guys to get healthy and be a part of it. But we really need to make sure this week makes us better.” 

RELATED: Shanahan says he expects Garoppolo back with 49ers in 2021

After the bye, the 49ers will head to Los Angeles for a divisional game against the Rams. Only two of the six remaining opponents on the 49ers' schedule currently have losing records: The Washington Football Team (2-7) and the Dallas Cowboys (2-7). 

49ers players currently on IR:

  • DE Nick Bosa (knee)

  • DE Dee Ford (back)

  • QB Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle)

  • TE George Kittle (foot)

  • RB Raheem Mostert (knee)

  • RB Jeff Wilson (calf)

  • WR Jalen Hurd (knee)

  • DE Ezekiel Ansah (bicep) 

  • DL Solomon Thomas (knee)

  • CB Richard Sherman (calf) 

  • LB Mark Nzeocha (quad)

  • OL Ben Garland (calf)

  • S Jaquiski Tartt (toe)

  • RB JaMychal Hasty (collarbone) 

  • S Jonathan Cyprien (hamstring)

  • WR Chris Thompson (undisclosed)