The 49ers may go into the NFC championship game without Elijah Mitchell. The team’s Week 1 starter, who has become a key off-the-bench contributor behind Christian McCaffrey since the team acquired the high-priced back from the Panthers, is battling a groin injury and did not practice this week. Mitchell is listed as questionable to face the Eagles, but this is the latest in a long run of injuries for a second-year player. Mitchell went on IR twice because of separate MCL sprains this season and battled shoulder, knee and finger injuries as a rookie. Jordan Mason worked as McCaffrey’s primary backup during Mitchell’s second stint on IR, while the team also has rookie Tyrion Davis-Price and Tevin Coleman (practice squad) available. Coleman has logged 12 carries for 26 yards this season; Davis-Price has 34 for 99 as a rookie.
Here is the latest from the West divisions:
- Rodney Hudson made it through just four games in his second Cardinals season, spending much of it on IR. The 33-year-old center signed an extension — three years, $30MM — with the Cards upon being acquired via trade in 2021, but a recent restructure points him out of town. Hudson agreed to drop his 2023 base salary from $8.25MM to $2.05MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This lends to the notion a new Cardinals regime will release Hudson, with OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald noting the $2.05MM figure doubles as the max amount a player can receive in 2023 via the CBA’s injury protection benefit (Twitter link). Hudson, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Raiders, considered retirement this past offseason and may be headed out the door in 2023. The Cards would be hit with $5MM-plus in dead money by cutting Hudson without a post-June 1 designation.
- Shifting to the AFC West, the Raiders will spend the next several weeks being connected to quarterbacks. They are expected to trade or release Derek Carr before his $40.4MM guarantee vests Feb. 15, and Josh McDaniels reuniting with Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo is already coming up. Raiders GM Dave Ziegler was also impressed with Florida QB Anthony Richardson when he scouted him against Tennessee this past season, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock has Richardson going off the board at No. 9 — as the fourth QB selected — but the ex-Gator talent is fairly raw and will have more development to complete once in the pros. If the Raiders were to sign Brady, drafting a QB at No. 7 would obviously cut into their offseason resources to build around him. But Brady also would not solve the Silver and Black’s long-term need at the position.
- Davante Adams was set to appear in court this week, in connection to the shoving incident at Arrowhead Stadium, but Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes the appearance will be delayed until June 26. Adams faces a suspension for the postgame shove of a photographer, a 20-year-old Missouri-Kansas City student, in October.
- DeShawn Williams started a career-high 15 games for the Broncos this season, playing a career-most 597 defensive snaps. The 30-year-old defensive tackle, who is on track for free agency in March, said he wants to re-sign with the Broncos, via Denver7’s Troy Renck (Twitter link). Denver will prioritize a new deal with D-lineman Dre’Mont Jones, who sounded like he wanted to test the market, and has D.J. Jones signed through 2024. Williams, though, would not be especially expensive. Contributing regularly to a top-10 defense, Williams totaled 4.5 sacks this season.