49ers’ Elijah Mitchell can face the Vikings with the needle in his finger

Running back Elijah Mitchell trained in a blue jersey all week, which serves as a warning that he must not be touched during training.

That could change on Sunday as the 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium, where it’s possible the team’s leading rusher may be available after missing just one game after surgery to insert a needle into a broken finger .

Mitchell was officially listed as questionable Friday, but no one would be surprised if he played against Minnesota and continued where he left off in a surprising rookie season.

“If he’s not 100 percent sure how he’s feeling, then we put him out there, so first and foremost, it’s just getting to that point, and it’s closer to being that,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Mitchell leads the 49ers with 560 yards on 116 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. attempt with three touchdowns.

A sixth-round draft pick from Louisiana-Lafayette, Mitchell played third-round draft pick Trey Sermon from the start and took on the role of lead back when Raheem Mostert was lost for the season following knee surgery.

Mitchell is the NFL’s second-leading rookie rusher, just behind Najee Harris, a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers who has 685 yards. Mitchell’s average per match (he has also missed time due to shoulder and rib injuries) is better than Harris (80 yards per game to 68.5).

The injury occurred in the 49ers’ 31-10 victory over the Rams, a game in which Mitchell carried 27 times in 91 yards. His previous highlight was 19 in the season opener against the Rams.

While it’s unusual for a fugitive to be available so quickly after inserting a stick to stabilize a broken finger, Shanahan had said “it has to do with where it is you can protect it, such a thing. He is a quick healer and he would not be out there so that’s okay. ”

In Mitchell’s absence, 49ers used Jeff Wilson Jr. (19 carries for 50 yards), Sermon (10 for 32) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel out of the backfield as a running back (nine carries, 79 yards).

Mitchell, Shanahan said, has been “ahead” of his injury, adding: “I think he would be in the game too. Adrenaline is a fun thing in those games. Sometimes you don’t feel the pain until after.”

The 49ers have rebounded from a 3-5 start, in part because they again dedicated themselves to the race, with 42 rushes for 156 yards and 42 rushes for 171 yards against Jacksonville.

Minnesota comes in giving up 4.8 yards per carry. carry – ranked 31st in the NFL – but has only surrendered three runs of 20 yards or more.

Shanahan attributes this to the Vikings’ defensive style under coach Mike Zimmer, which often includes two deep assurances and a reluctance to put extra man in the field.

49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw (57) celebrates a 57-yard touchdown return against Detroit in Week 1. Getty Images

“They keep everything wrapped up,” Shanahan said. “They play two-shell defense, probably more than anyone else. Their outside corners do a good job of funneling inside. By the time the back comes past the line, these Cover 2 fuses are up to five yards. Otteman fronts are hard to run against, but if you get a guy (beyond the line) in an eight-man front, there’s only one guy left and plenty of room. Two shells are like an umbrella: ”

Minnesota is thin along the offensive line, with Everson Griffen out handling a personal case Danielle Hunter lost to the season earlier this month with a torn chest muscle and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson out on the COVID-19 list.

Greenlaw, Ford decides Saturday

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw and edge rusher Dee Ford were back for training this week and out of injured reserve, but Shanahan said the 49ers would not announce until Saturday whether they would be back on the 53-man roster and available to face the Vikings.

“Hope so, but we will hold it out until tomorrow to decide with certainty,” Shanahan said.

Greenlaw has not played since the 49ers opening game against Detroit due to a core muscle injury. In the second quarter of that match, Greenlaw had a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown against Jared Goff that gave the 49ers a 28-10 lead in a game they would win 41-33. His place has been filled by third-year linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who had what he called one of the worst games of his career in the rematch against Arizona, but played much better against the Rams and Jaguars in the last two games.

Ford, who has played in 18 of 42 games for the 49ers after being acquired by the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2019 season, has been out with a back injury and was placed on the injured reserve on November 6th. He last played on October 24th. in a 30-18 loss to Indianapolis and got 17 snaps.


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