Elijah Mitchell's MCL injury puts 49ers' running back depth to test early

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Mitchell's MCL injury puts 49ers' backfield depth to test early originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers’ running back depth already is being put to the test.

Elijah Mitchell will go on injured reserve with a sprain to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Shanahan said it was fortunate that the injury was not worse.

Mitchell will not require surgery, but the team is expecting him to be out of action for approximately eight weeks.

With that timeframe, Mitchell could be back after the bye week, when the 49ers play the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 13.

“He was pretty down, and for obvious reasons, we are down for him,” Shanahan said of Mitchell. “Elijah went through a lot last year with the injuries he had. He really worked hard this offseason, and he was feeling really good going into that game.

“Man, I thought he looked really good before he got hurt.”

Jeff Wilson Jr. took over Sunday as the 49ers' top running back. He carried nine times for 22 yards.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel lined up in the backfield on nine snaps. He carried eight times for 52 yards and one touchdown.

Jordan Mason, an undrafted rookie from Georgia Tech, was the 49ers’ No. 3 running back Sunday because of his play on special teams. Ty Davis-Price, a third-round pick from LSU, was inactive.

Now, Davis-Price will be in uniform and available to help the 49ers’ ground game.

“There’s going to be a lot more pressure on those guys, and we have to pick it up as a group to help them out,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers had six running backs on their roster during training camp and opted to keep four on their initial 53-man roster.

JaMycal Hasty and Trey Sermon were waived, and both were claimed off waivers. Hasty played sparingly Sunday for the Jacksonville Jaguars, while Sermon was inactive for the Philadelphia Eagles.

A year ago, the 49ers lost their starting running back, Raheem Mostert, to an injury in the season opener against the Detroit Lions, and he underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Mostert’s injury opened the door for Mitchell to take over as the 49ers’ lead back. He gained 963 yards and five touchdowns last season in 11 regular-season games.

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On Sunday, Mitchell opened the game strong. He gained 41 yards on six rushing attempts in the 49ers’ season-opening 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears before leaving the game with the injury.

He sustained the injury to his right knee on a play in which Bears defensive back Eddie Jackson crashed in for a hard hit in the lower thigh region at the end of an 11-yard run. Mitchell’s knee bent awkwardly inward.

Mitchell remained in the game for one more carry — a 1-yard gain.

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