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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Niners who could see increased opportunity in Week 14

Dec 9, 2023 at 9:38 AM--

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While the 49ers have been afforded better injury luck in 2023, it's only natural for the wear and tear of the season to catch up. After a physical game against the Eagles in Philadelphia, the 49ers suffered a number of key injuries including to interior defensive linemen Arik Armstead and backup tight end Ross Dwelley.

Arik Armstead popped up on the injury report with a foot injury after Week 12. This stirred concern that he was dealing with the same plantar fasciitis issue that he missed several games with in 2022. Despite not practicing ahead of Week 13, he played against Philadelphia but came out of the game nursing a new knee injury. Kyle Shanahan wouldn't go into much detail on either injury but said that Armstead could miss one to two weeks. Ross Dwelley suffered a high ankle sprain against the Eagles. He's expected to miss some time.

The 49ers aren't a stranger to next man up. Reserve players relish the opportunity to prove themselves, especially in such a pivotal time of the season. A number of guys could see their opportunities increase in Week 14 against the Seahawks.

Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Kalia Davis

Javon Kinlaw has been enjoying a rotational role this season that has afforded him the chance to stay fresh and reduce his injury risk. He only played 22 snaps in Philadelphia which is about his average per game this season. It resulted in his best game of the season so far. The former first-round pick tallied five pressures, two sacks, and three hurries. While the minimal usage has benefited Kinlaw, Arik Armstead's injury and Kinlaw's performance of late could push the 49ers to move him to the 3-Tech spot and see an expanded role in Armstead's absence.

If the 49ers take the cautious route on Kinlaw and decide to not significantly increase his snaps, Kevin Givens is Arik Armstead's direct backup and will also see snaps while Armstead remains out. Givens has seen action in every game this season as part of the defensive line rotation but hasn't been as effective. However, it bodes well that in Week 12 against the Seahawks, Givens totaled one pressure and one sack on just 18 snaps.

Last week against Philadelphia, the 49ers debuted their 2022 sixth-round pick, defensive tackle Kalia Davis. Fans had long awaited to see his first NFL action. Davis' entire rookie season was spent on the non-football injury list as he rehabbed an ACL injury he suffered late in his final season at Central Florida. Coming out of UCF, Davis drew comparisons to former 49ers and now Broncos defensive tackle D.J. Jones. This increased the intrigue from fans. In his first NFL game against the Eagles' highly touted offensive line, Davis accounted for two pressures, a hurry, and a sack on just 19 snaps. If the 49ers elect to keep Kinlaw's snaps down or aren't moved by Givens' contributions, Kalia Davis is certainly the higher upside option to see increased snaps without Armstead.

Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis

On the tight end side of things, the loss of Ross Dwelley won't be felt as strongly, with All-Pro George Kittle continuing to lead the way. But what Dwelley brings is six years of NFL experience that comes with plenty of special teams and blocking prowess. Fourth-year tight end Charlie Woerner becomes the next man up behind Kittle, and he's in line to see Dwelley's snaps. For expectation's sake, it's worth noting that Dwelley was averaging just a handful of offensive snaps a game, and Woerner was already on special teams duty. We may not notice a huge difference in his opportunities.

Rookie tight end Brayden Willis will move up in the pecking order and likely find himself active in Week 14. It'll be his third time being active since seeing two special teams snaps in Week 4. With injuries piling up to special team contributors, it's fair to believe Willis could see increased opportunity there come Sunday.


  • Which player are you looking most forward to getting more snaps in Week 14?
  • Kalia Davis
  • Javon Kinlaw
  • Kevin Givens
  • Charlie Woerner
  • 769 votes
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.

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