NEW 49ers NFL Draft Hats Available Now! →
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Healthier 49ers can be a scary team going into the playoffs

Jan 9, 2023 at 9:48 AM--

A healthy San Francisco 49ers team will be the most dangerous team in the NFL Playoffs.

After an embarrassing 44-23 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on October 23, the 49ers have won 10 games in a row, clinching the NFC West and earning the second seed in the NFC playoff bracket, but some key players were injured throughout the season. Some of these players are returning from injured reserve and some are returning after missing games due to lingering injuries. They will make the 49ers more dangerous than what was on the field these past 10 weeks.

The 49ers leading rusher last season, Elijah Mitchell, had been on injured reserve since December 3. He played in the final game against the Arizona Cardinals and can add a lot to the expected one-two punch of he and All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

In his first season with the 49ers, Mitchell played in 11 games and led the team with 963 rushing yards. He finished this season with 279 rushing yards through five games.

In his 11 games with the 49ers, McCaffrey has 1,210 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns, adding another dimension to head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

With a healthy Mitchell returning for the playoffs, he can spell McCaffrey, who has been playing with a sprained ankle, and be an extra spark for the 49ers offense. In the 38-13 victory, Mitchell had 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns on five carries.

The 49ers have not been a prolific passing team since the 1998 season, but they have the weapons on the outside to make life miserable for their opponents' secondaries. Since Deebo Samuel suffered an MCL sprain in a Week 14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk have helped lead the way for the 49ers' passing game, while players like Ray-Ray McCloud and Jauan Jennings have made meaningful contributions as well.

Samuel caught two passes for 20 yards in the 38-13 victory against the Cardinals.

Second-year guard Aaron Banks, who has started to come into his own this season while allowing just one sack on the year, missed the Cardinals game with a knee injury. According to, the 49ers have allowed 31 sacks, which is the sixth-best in the league, and hopefully, Banks is back for the home playoff game.

The 49ers defense is the best in the league but has been without defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw for half of the season. Armstead, who missed eight games this season, returned after suffering a hairline ankle fracture. He has eight tackles and no sacks this season. Kinlaw has played in five games and has played up to his rookie outing in 2020.

Defensive end and possible NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa, has 18.5 sacks. Others, such as Samson Ebukam, have also contributed to the pass rush. Ebukam finished with five sacks, and Charles Omenihu has 4.5 this season. Both have done an excellent job as run-stoppers as well.

The biggest return may be that of injured quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has been sidelined since breaking a bone in his foot against the Miami Dolphins on 12/4.

Since he relieved Trey Lance in Week 2, Garoppolo led the 49ers to seven wins before the injury, but rookie Brock Purdy has come in and won six straight games (including the victory over the Dolphins). This scenario could be the same as the one Bill Belichick faced in New England in 2001 with Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe, the unquestioned starter, was injured in a Week 3 game against the New York Jets, and Brady, a second-year player, came in and led the Patriots to an eventual Super Bowl victory.

Belichick had a difficult decision to make because Bledsoe was cleared to return from his injury in Week 10, but the coach opted to stick with Brady, and the Patriots went on a remarkable Super Bowl run.

The quarterback position is not like all the other positions on the field, and Mr. Irrelevant has played well enough to make the decision difficult for the 49ers brass. However, both quarterbacks have played well enough for the team to believe either one is capable of leading them to a Super Bowl victory.
  • Written by:
    Sports has been my first love since I was 12 years old. At one point I wanted to play football professionally. I started to take photography as a hobby in my teenage years but this was when I followed sports. I started to listen to sports radio, I found my true calling and it was to be a sports talk show host. Though I follow football and basketball, I started to have a new love of cultures around the world. After graduating from San Antonio College in 2018, I worked for the Castroville News Bulletin before going to A&M San Antonio to get my communications degree. Since I have written for the Ranger of San Antonio College, the News Bulletin and the Mesquite of Texas A&M San Antonio, I met many people and went to a lot of events. My major milestone was being in the press box of the San Antonio Commanders game for the Mesquite and being apart of a press conference with the Medina County Sheriff and other local news outlets. When I am not doing anything, I like to watch old cartoons on the DC Universe, play video games such as Mega Man and the Mass Effect series. I have also created Youtube channel called "Anger Management" with my friend Aaron Donnell.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • No Comments


Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

Jason Kelce: 49ers adding Javon Hargrave "not going to make it any easier" for Eagles

By David Bonilla
Mar 19

Adding Javon Hargrave was a huge (and shocking) addition by the San Francisco 49ers. While it seems like a perfect fit and addresses a significant team need, no one saw it coming. The Niners didn't have considerable salary cap space, so signing Hargrave to a four-year, $84 million deal was unexpected. The former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle, nicknamed "Grave Digger," joins a defensive line that includes NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, bolstering the middle of that unit. One of the defender's former teammates is happy for Hargrave and his financial good fortune. However, he also knows the loss could be problematic for the defending NFC champions in the upcoming season. "I'm happy for my man, Grave Digger," Eagles

Seven 49ers free agents still searching for an NFL team

By David Bonilla
Mar 20

The first week of NFL free agency is in the books, and there has been a lot of movement made by the San Francisco 49ers. The team added defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, quarterback Sam Darnold, and others to the roster. As is the case every year, departures are inevitable. Gone are some high-profile names like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders) and tackle Mike McGlinchey (Broncos). Key players like cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (Lions) and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill (Titans) have also found new NFL homes. San Francisco has tendered a one-year deal to exclusive-rights free agent wide receiver Jauan Jennings. In addition, the following eight 49ers restricted or unrestricted free agents have returned to the team. C Jake

Podcast: 49ers with Grant Cohn: Are the 49ers the favorites in the NFC with Trey Lance?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Mar 24

Rohan Chakravarthi and Grant Cohn discuss whether the 49ers are favorites in the NFC after free agency. The audio for the show is embedded above, while the video is available below. ?feature=share You can listen to "The Rohan Chakravarthi Show" from our

49ers considered trading Mike McGlinchey last year

By David Bonilla
Mar 25

Mike McGlinchey received a life-changing payday, signing a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Denver Broncos. The offensive tackle has known for a while that he would not return to the San Francisco 49ers, the only NFL team he has played for and the one that made him the No. 9 overall pick in 2018. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear to McGlinchey that he was likely playing his final months for the team. There was too much money invested in other spots, and the 49ers knew they couldn't compete with other interested teams. Behind the scenes, Lynch and Shanahan kept McGlinchey in the loop of what the team was thinking, and everything pointed to the tackle playing elsewhere in 2023 … maybe even


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone