SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday after receiving important news about the injuries of two of their best players.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that catcher Deebo Samuel and linebacker Fred Warner suffered groin and hamstring strains, respectively, in San Francisco’s 34-26 victory over the Los Angeles. Minnesota Vikings.
The bad news is that they will both miss at least Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. But Shanahan was more pleased with the fact that both players are not expected to miss more than a game or two as the 6-5 Niners try to get a spot in the NFC playoffs.
“That’s what I was telling you last night that I hope it’s just a tension,” Shanahan said. “And the strains usually [last] anywhere from one to two weeks. I think it was very good news considering what it could have been. “
According to Shanahan, both Samuel and Warner could return as soon as the December 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Barring a setback, both would be expected to return in time for a home game on Dec. 19 against the Atlanta Falcons.
While the Niners received relatively good news on the big picture, the loss of Samuel and Warner even for a week is significant.
Samuel has been the most productive offensive player on the team, establishing himself as the league’s premier multidimensional weapon.
On Sunday, Samuel became the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards, five rushing touchdowns and five touchdowns received in the same season.
Without Samuel, the Niners will look to second-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk to continue building on his recent rise, as well as players like tight end George Kittle, wide receiver Jauan Jennings and a burgeoning running game.
“It’s been a big part of our offense,” Shanahan said. “But I think right now we are in a situation where we can overcome that.”
Replacing Warner won’t be easy either, especially since it’s something the Niners haven’t had to do at any point in their more than three seasons. When he misses Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, it will be the first game Warner has missed since he came to the league in 2018, snapping a streak of 59 consecutive regular-season starts.
When Warner left in the third quarter against the Vikings, the Niners turned to Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles for the center linebacker spot and Azeez Al-Shaair remained a weak side linebacker.
How that plays out this week will depend on the status of fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw. Greenlaw also left Sunday’s game with what Shanahan described as “irritation” from the central muscle injury that had kept him out since Week 1. Greenlaw is considered day-to-day this week.
And with strong side linebacker Marcell Harris on concussion protocol, the 49ers hope to enter the Seattle game sadly as a linebacker. That puts even more responsibility on Al-Shaair, who had an interception and fumble recovery in the win against Minnesota.
“Azeez has been ready for whatever we asked him to do,” Shanahan said. “He always runs and plays like his hair is on fire and he loves to play football. That is not going to change, but he is more and more confident in where to be, what to anticipate … He has been playing at a high level all the time. year and whether he’s in or out, I hope he continues, we need him to continue, because he’s one of the reasons we’re playing pretty well right now. “
Elsewhere on the injury front, running back Trey Sermon suffered a sprained ankle that Shanahan says will keep him out “for a while” and make him a candidate to head to injured reserve with the possibility of coming back more. later in the season.