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How the 49ers need to adjust with a limited Elijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 28, 2023 at 2:00 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers faced some unfortunate news this week as starting running back Christian McCaffrey was a non-participant in two of the week's three practices, although he was present on Friday and ultimately taken off the injury report ahead of Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Additionally, running back Elijah Mitchell missed the entire week of practice after sustaining a groin injury in last weekend's game against the Dallas Cowboys, with his status being questionable.

Regardless, San Francisco has an issue at running back with the limited nature of both key players, which means they'll need an adjustment against a tough Philadelphia team on Sunday.

The answer to their issues? Deebo. Samuel.

Deebo Samuel is the 49ers' most powerful player in terms of physicality, and his level of force has single-handedly won games. Remember the 2021-2022 NFC Divisional Game? Deebo Samuel sealed the game with a carry on... 3rd & 7, securing the 49ers a first down and a win.

The 49ers are going to need to impose their physicality on the Eagles, especially if Philadelphia executes a gameplan similar to San Francisco's previous two opponents: stacking players in the box to dare Brock Purdy to throw the football, trusting their cornerbacks in coverage.

Samuel is the perfect solution for that gameplan as his ability with the ball in his hands is unmatched; he's able to break tackles and accelerate in space, while playing the multi-dimensional role of a wideback.

Especially if Elijah Mitchell cannot play at 100%, Samuel should take a bigger role, be it out of the backfield or with screen passes, taking the game to the Eagles and forcing them to tackle.

Watching last weekend's game, it's clear that Christian McCaffrey wasn't at 100%, as his explosiveness was limited with the calf injury, while Mitchell looked banged up at times as well.

Could that mean a potential role for rookie running back Jordan Mason, who hasn't seen the field, outside of garbage time against the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round?

These questions should be answered as the game nears, but one thing is clear: the 49ers will need to find a way to create their level of physicality if their two top running backs aren't at 100%. And, Deebo Samuel is the clearest answer to that problem.
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.


  • Fred
    You have the dumbest takes. CMC isn't even on the injury report. You have been brainwashed that Philly is good. They havent played a team like the 49ers but 49ers have played a team like Philly. I should correct that eagles have played teams like the 49ers and got beat
    Jan 28, 2023 at 5:24 PM
  • Sl
    What do you care, you think were gonna lose.
    Jan 28, 2023 at 4:14 PM


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