Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Jaguars: Kyle Shanahan ‘holding out hope’ that Elijah Mitchell could play, discusses Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon

Nov 19, 2021 at 1:04 PM--

San Francisco 49ers rookie running back Elijah Mitchell is officially listed as "doubtful" for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is still hoping that the rookie could play, but the odds are against him.

Mitchell suffered a finger fracture during Monday night's win over the Los Angeles Rams. The next day, he underwent a procedure to repair the damage. As a result, Mitchell has not practiced at all this week. The coach had hoped the team's leading rusher would get some work in during the three practices, but that never happened.

"It's just how he feels with it," Shanahan explained. "And we thought it would be a little further along now. But obviously, it isn't. That's why he couldn't go today. We're holding out hope because we've still got 48 hours, but any time someone doesn't go [in the final practice], it's tough."

Shanahan added that Mitchell suffered the injury during the second quarter of Monday night's game.

"He didn't say anything to anyone at all," the coach said. "He just thought he had a jammed finger, and it was hurting. He toughed it out, but that stuff starts to hurt a little bit more when the adrenaline goes down."

Shanahan didn't overreact to the injury, believing it was a jammed finger too. Mitchell remained in the game and finished with 27 carries for 91 yards. Even with a comfortable lead, the coach didn't consider pulling his featured back out of the game, and his reason is understandable.

"We put in some backups when we were up 41-17 with 1:58 left [in Week 1], and they had the ball with a chance to send it to overtime versus Detroit," Shanahan commented. "So, it's got to be a long ways away before we stop giving him carries, just from some scars I've developed over the years."

Shanahan noted that Jeff Wilson Jr. is most likely to start if Mitchell is unavailable. Wilson is popular in the locker room, brings an energy to the offense, and is trusted as a ball-carrier. He suffered a knee injury during the offseason and started the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Wilson was activated on November 6.

"The first time Jeff came out there, he looked exactly like the guy he's been," Shanahan shared. "Jeff plays with so much energy. The way you guys see him in games is exactly how he is in practice. So, our team feeds off him a ton, and the more practice he's gone, the more he's got his legs under him, and he's ready to go."

What about the 49ers' other rookie running back, Trey Sermon? San Francisco selected him three rounds ahead of Mitchell, in the third round, but Sermon has received limited playing time. He has been inactive for two games this season but should be suited up on Sunday with Mitchell sidelined and could contribute.

"He's ready for whatever amount [of carries] we give him," Shanahan said. "We don't decide that number [beforehand], but whatever we give him, he'll be ready. He's been ready every week. If Elijah's not up, that does give him an opportunity."

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