The 49ers could be getting reinforcements on offense for their season finale against the Cardinals.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Monday said wide receiver Deebo Samuel will continue practicing in Week 18 after getting two limited sessions in ahead of Week 17. Running back Elijah Mitchell will also have his practice window opened and return to the field after his second IR stint of the year.
San Francisco has not officially opened Mitchell’s 21-day practice window. They’ll need to do so before he’s allowed to practice. Once he’s officially activated it will end the seasons of everyone else on IR since Mitchell would be the eighth player to return from the injured list – the maximum amount allowed by the NFL. Samuel did not go on IR after suffering his knee and ankle injuries against the Buccaneers in Week 14.
Whether either one or both play in the 49ers’ Week 18 matchup against the Cardinals remains to be seen. Shanahan said no decisions will be made on that front until the end of the week.
“I know they definitely could help us win, that’s for sure, but if they’re 100% and completely healthy and going and they look great in practice, I’d like to talk to both of them about it too, see where they are and how confident they are,” Shanahan said. “I’ll definitely talk to the doctors, but usually once they let them come out to practice, it’s pretty good and we just have to see how they’re moving and how they feel through it all. I know it’s supposed to rain a bunch this week, so we’ll see how much full speed stuff we can get in, but yeah, I’d love to get those guys out there. I just want to make sure that’s going to only help us and them and not hurt us.”
The decision to bring Samuel and/or Mitchell back won’t be an easy one. San Francisco clinches the No. 2 seed with a win, and could lift themselves to the No. 1 seed with a win and an Eagles loss. While seeding is important, they can’t fall lower than the No. 3 with a loss, and resting Samuel and Mitchell could ensure both are healthy for the first round of the playoffs.
The 49ers have had success without Mitchell and Samuel the last few weeks, and the emergence of RBs Jordan Mason and Tyrion Davis-Price could help buoy the backfield without Mitchell for another week.