Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan, 49ers players hopeful team can heal up over break, make a run at the playoffs

Nov 5, 2020 at 10:56 PM--

From the outside looking in, things don't look too promising at the moment for the 2020 San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers stand at 4-5 through nine games, are coming off a 34-17 Thursday night loss to the Green Bay Packers, and have the most injury-riddled roster in the entire National Football League by a wide margin. They're without their starting quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo), their top three running backs (Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson), their top receiver (Deebo Samuel), their All-Pro tight end (George Kittle), their starting center (Weston Richburg), their top two pass rushers (Nick Bosa, Dee Ford), and their future Hall-of-Fame cornerback (Richard Sherman).

And that's just scratching the surface.

Once thought by many to be a favorite to win the NFC West and make a run at a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, the 49ers are now being picked by analysts to finish out of the playoffs and dead last in the division.

Still, in spite of all the obstacles they face, nobody's going to be able to tell anyone in the 49ers' locker room they don't have it in them to make a run.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and 49ers players expressed that sentiment following their loss to the Packers, a game that saw the team fall into a 34-3 hole while its backup players tried to compete against a much healthier Super Bowl contender. The key for the 49ers will obviously be getting as healthy as possible in the weeks ahead, which begins with a three-day break the team will have before its next game against New Orleans on November 15. A bye week after that game will give the players even more time to heal as they head down the final stretch of the schedule.

"We've got one game in the next 24 days, so hopefully we can get three off, go take care of business versus New Orleans, try to turn this around in the second half because it's still early in the year," Shanahan said during his postgame press conference. "I know we've still got a chance to get in that tournament at the end of the year, but we've got to recover a little bit here with these three days and make sure we come back and start playing some better football."

One player who after the loss to the Packers expressed clear confidence in the team's ability to rebound was defensive tackle D.J. Jones. Jones told reporters Shanahan told the players to use the upcoming time wisely to heal up, then from there the team plans on doing what it can to make one final push.

"No doubt," Jones said. "There's no question in our minds we can put this one behind us and get ready for New Orleans, get our bodies back right and just be ready. We've got a team full of guys who can play ball and get Ws. We can win against anybody, but we've just got to lock in and play together."

Also showing an upbeat attitude was wide receiver Richie James, who admitted the team is undoubtedly in need of a break.

"That's what we're thinking about for the most part -- getting guys back. You can tell we're a little bit tired," James said. "It's a short week for us. We'll be alright. We'll take a few days to recover and recoup and mentally get your mindset back where it needs to go. I think we'll be alright."

Thursday night's loss was a tough dose of reality for the 49ers, who back in January hammered the Packers 37-20 in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium. But that 49ers team was able to stay healthy and, as a result, was able to play up to its potential. Things have been disappointingly different this season, but this team has faced tougher seasons under Shanahan, and if the team didn't give up then, it shouldn't be expected to give up now.

"For me personally, that was last year," Shanahan said. " You go into this year and you expect to be right there because of how we finished last year and the team that we had. But each year's a new year. We know the challenges we have had. I think there's a number of games we could have won that we didn't, and it doesn't get easier with some of the guys that we lost. But hopefully we'll get some guys back here going forward. I'm really looking forward to these three days off for our players. I think it's something that's needed pretty bad right now for us."

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