Elijah Mitchell

Injury Updates: Mitchell, Vikings, Becton

The past few years in San Francisco have seen a procession of running back injuries. One such player who has been at the center of that issue the past two years is third-year back Elijah Mitchell. Unfortunately, Mitchell isn’t in quite in the clear going into Year 3 for the 49ers. According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, Mitchell has suffered an abductor strain that will hold him out for a bit.

Injuries have been a bit of an issue for Mitchell to start his career. While playing as an injury replacement in his rookie year for Raheem Mostert, Mitchell was forced to miss six games due to injury himself. Things went further downhill in his sophomore season as he suffered a sprained MCL in the first game of the season. He was able to return in mid-November, but by the time he was back, Christian McCaffrey had arrived and staked his claim atop the depth chart. Mitchell would only play in five games last year.

Now, for the first time in his career, Mitchell will not be expected to carry the weight at running back. With McCaffrey firmly leading the group, Mitchell should be able to take his time coming back from the strain. Head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media that Mitchell should be back “in a week.” While that’s an encouraging timeline to hear, Mitchell’s injury history warrants a bit of cautious optimism from fans.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the league:

  • We saw Saints linebacker Andrew Dowell land on injured reserve earlier this week. Thanks to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, we now know that he was placed on the injured list after suffering a torn ACL. After only missing one game in the past two seasons, Dowell is now likely to miss the entire 2023 season.
  • Another player who unfortunately went down with a torn ACL this week is Vikings defensive lineman James Lynch, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Lynch was a tied for the fourth-most snaps on the defensive line for Minnesota last year, a defensive line that is also playing without Dalvin Tomlinson this year. Lynch has missed games in each year of his young career, but 2023 will see him miss the entire season.
  • After only two years in the league, Seahawks edge rusher Darrell Taylor has already established himself as a main contributor on the Seattle defense with 16.0 sacks over his first two seasons. According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Taylor showed up to practice on Thursday with his left arm in a sling. Head coach Pete Carroll informed the media that he was dealing with a sprained shoulder. A recovery timeline was not provided.
  • The Seahawks held a scrimmage tonight and saw two rookies sustain injuries in the simulated game. The team’s injury woes in the running backs room continue as rookie seventh-round pick Kenny McIntosh suffered what Carroll is calling a sprained knee, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN. Luckily, they will be getting another rookie rusher back, as Carroll told the media that second-round rookie Zach Charbonnet will return “full-go” following the team’s off day tomorrow. The other rookie to go down with an injury was undrafted cornerback Andrew Whitaker. The diagnosis is unclear, but Whitaker was carted off the field after sustaining an injury in the contest, according to Condotta.
  • Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton missed the entire 2022 season after suffering an avulsion fracture in his right kneecap. The veteran made his return to the field in last night’s Hall of Fame game but left after only playing seven snaps. He reported today that, while he didn’t feel like there was any setback with his surgically repaired knee, he decided to be overly cautious with playing on turf, according to Andy Vasquez of NJ.com. In recent years, many non-contact injuries have been attributed to turf fields around the league. With this in mind, Becton got a good sense of where his knee was at and decided to work the rest out in practice. The team plans to test him more as camp progresses and the season draws nearer.

West Notes: 49ers, Hudson, Raiders, Broncos

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.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/7/23

Today’s minor transactions heading into the final Sunday of the regular season:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Promoted from practice squad: WR Josh Ali

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

49ers Will Activate RB Elijah Mitchell For Week 18

JANUARY 6: The 49ers are set to get some depth help in the last week of the season as they are expected to activate Mitchell for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Cardinals, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. Mitchell will immediately return to his role as the primary backup running back behind McCaffrey.

With Samuel also expected to play this weekend, the San Francisco offense immediately becomes much more formidable, even if the team was able to thrive in the absence of two of their offensive stars from last season. Discounting the pair of quarterbacks on IR, the 49ers are becoming the picture of health on offense as they roll into the postseason.

JANUARY 4: For the second time this season, the 49ers designated Elijah Mitchell to return from IR. The second-year running back made his return to practice Wednesday.

Mitchell has gone through a complicated year, one filled with transactions and a notable role change. But the 49ers have made Mitchell’s return a priority to the point they have saved their final IR activation for their sixth-round find.

Entering the season as San Francisco’s starter, Mitchell did not make it through Week 1 unscathed. The Louisiana alum suffered a sprained MCL that ended up keeping him out two months. After that lengthy rehab odyssey, Mitchell returned to supplement new RB1 Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers’ McCaffrey-Mitchell plan was working, only Mitchell sustained a second MCL sprain that sidelined him to this point.

Mitchell faced a six- to eight-week timetable to return from his second MCL setback this year; it looks like he will hit the early part of that window. The 49ers took advantage of the NFL’s IR change this offseason, which allows teams to activate a player off the injured list twice.

Last season, Mitchell surprised most by becoming San Francisco’s go-to back. He leapfrogged third-round rookie Trey Sermon quickly and finished the season with 963 rushing yards and five touchdowns, doing so despite missing six games with an assortment of injuries. Mitchell’s early-career track record does not present much confidence he can stay healthy, but he has been effective when on the field this season. Mitchell is averaging 5.6 yards per carry in his sophomore slate.

A report last week indicated Michell and Deebo Samuel were on the verge of returning. Samuel, who is finishing off a recovery from an MCL sprain and an ankle injury, returned to practice last week but was held out. The 49ers did not place Samuel on IR, giving him the freedom to return at any point. Mitchell being activated would end Hassan Ridgeway‘s season. Ridgeway suffered a pectoral injury in December. The 49ers had used Ridgeway as a fill-in starter at defensive tackle but had held their final IR-return spot for Mitchell. Should the plan come to fruition, Mitchell will be the eighth and final 49er activated off IR in what has been another eventful season on the injury front for the team.

Samuel and Mitchell returning will obviously stand to help the 49ers, who can clinch the NFC’s No. 2 seed with a win over the Cardinals. San Francisco needs to win and Philadelphia to lose — to the Giants, who have nothing to play for, as they are locked into the No. 6 spot — to earn the No. 1 seed. But the two skill-position cogs being ready for the playoffs will be a boon for San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes.

49ers Aiming To Have Deebo Samuel, Elijah Mitchell At Practice This Week

Kyle Shanahan offered a rare 49ers news development Monday: the team did not suffer a notable injury during its most recent game. In fact, the 49ers are hoping to have two of their key cogs back at practice soon.

Deebo Samuel has progressed to the point the team hopes he can practice as soon as this week, Shanahan said, and Elijah Mitchell is on track to make a quicker return from his second MCL sprain this year. The 49ers are eyeing a Friday practice for Mitchell, via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch and ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner (Twitter links).

MCL sprains have provided trouble for the 49ers this season. Mitchell, Samuel and a few others have missed time because of this injury. Mitchell missed eight games because of the knee malady he suffered in Week 1. This time around, the timetable may not be as lengthy. Mitchell, who has gone from Week 1 starter to an often-used Christian McCaffrey backup, went down against the Saints late last month and has missed the required four games.

The 49ers designating Mitchell for return Friday would mean they can activate him as soon as Week 17 — an unlikely scenario — or as late as the divisional round, provided the team reaches that point. Even if the 49ers hold off on Mitchell playing this week or next, it appears he will be ready to return when the team begins its postseason slate.

Shanahan confirmed what has long been reported Monday; San Francisco’s final IR-return spot is being earmarked for Mitchell. The second-year running back has already returned from IR once this season, but an offseason rule change allows for the same player to be activated two times in a season. The other 49ers option here would be defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, but Wagoner adds (via Twitter) Mitchell is closer to returning. Ridgeway has missed the past three games with a pectoral injury.

The 49ers did not place Samuel on IR, keeping the door open for an immediate return. The All-Pro wide receiver has missed the past two games with an MCL sprain and a sprained ankle. The 49ers did not seem as concerned about Samuel’s status compared to the likes of Mitchell or Azeez Al-Shaair, who also suffered an MCL sprain that sidelined him several weeks, indicating the recently extended pass catcher could return before the regular season ended. Samuel has missed the past two games. While Samuel (840 scrimmage yards) is not on the same pace he was in 2021 (1,770), he is a rare weapon that will bolster the team’s chances of reaching a second Super Bowl in four seasons.

Football Outsiders gives the 49ers (11-4) a 30% chance of leapfrogging the Vikings (12-3) for the NFC’s No. 2 seed. The 49ers have clinched at least the NFC’s No. 3 seed, though the second spot would put the team in position to play two postseason home games. A 49ers-Vikings tie would give San Francisco the 2 seed due to a superior conference record. The 49ers close the season with games against the Raiders and Cardinals; the Vikes travel to Green Bay and Chicago.

Additionally, Shanahan said Jimmy Garoppolo had his cast removed from his broken foot. Garoppolo is not on IR, but the 49ers do not expect him to return this season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/3/22

Here are the league’s minor transactions leading into the Sunday-slate of Week 13 games:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Elijah Mitchell Facing Another Extended Absence; Arik Armstead Nearing Return

Elijah Mitchell opened the season as the 49ers’ starting running back, but an MCL sprain changed his second-year path. After returning to complement trade acquisition Christian McCaffrey, Mitchell will be shut down because of an MCL again.

The 49ers are expecting to be without Mitchell for a six- to eight-week stretch because of another MCL sprain, Kyle Shanahan said Monday. This depleted a backfield already affected by the 49ers trading Mitchell’s initial replacement — Jeff Wilson — to the Dolphins on deadline day. Mitchell damaged his other MCL, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, not the one he hurt in September.

Despite being a sixth-round pick, Mitchell emerged as San Francisco’s lead back last season. The Louisiana product amassed 963 rushing yards in just 11 games, but injuries have continually held back the mid-major alum. While other issues led to Mitchell’s six missed games as a rookie, he underwent knee surgery this offseason. His ensuing bouts of knee trouble obviously provide a concern about his long-term viability. The 49ers will need to make another backfield adjustment going forward.

San Francisco has assembled an interesting collection of skill-position players, adding McCaffrey to its George KittleDeebo Samuel duo. But these three have each run into extensive injury trouble, injecting doubt about their availability for the next two months. Mitchell represented high-end insurance for McCaffrey and played well upon return from his initial MCL sprain, but he can be labeled an injury-prone player at this point as well. The 49ers can turn back to third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price as a CMC complement. The LSU product’s role stands to grow going forward, with Wilson now the Dolphins’ starter post-trade.

The 49ers may also have a decision to make regarding their injured reserve list. The NFL’s offseason IR adjustment would allow for Mitchell to be placed on IR and return again, but the league also capped the number of players who can be activated from teams’ IR, PUP and NFI lists at eight. The 49ers lead the league with seven such activations, and starting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw remains on IR. If Mitchell returns to IR, only one of these two players can be activated this season. The 49ers are planning to place Mitchell back on IR, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets, putting this either/or scenario into play. Mitchell’s timetable indicates the team would need to hold its final IR activation until the postseason, inserting some roster-related risk into the surging 49ers’ equation.

Arik Armstead has missed most of the 49ers’ season but is not on IR; Shanahan provided more positive injury news regarding the longtime San Francisco defensive lineman. Armstead is expected to return to practice Wednesday, Wagoner tweets. The veteran D-tackle has been out since Week 4 with a hairline fibula fracture. The 49ers have maintained their No. 1 defensive ranking for weeks without Armstead and others in the picture. They stand to receive a boost when the eighth-year defender returns to action.

49ers To Activate Elijah Mitchell, Azeez Al-Shaair, Colton McKivitz, Jordan Willis

NOVEMBER 11: The 49ers will be the first team to push up against the NFL’s new IR activation ceiling. They plan to activate Mitchell, Al-Shaair, McKivitz and defensive end Jordan Willis from IR, Kyle Shanahan said Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco (on Twitter).

With San Francisco having already used three of its injury activations — including one on Jason Verrett, who has since suffered another Achilles tear — the team will have one remaining beyond Week 10. Friday’s decision stands to affect how San Francisco manages its IR list going forward, as starting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is also on IR. Kinlaw is slated to return at some point this season, Shanahan said (via The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, on Twitter).

While the IR ramifications of Friday’s move will be interesting to monitor down the road, the team will have a host of key contributors back following its bye week.

NOVEMBER 7: Injuries and a rather notable trade defined the first half of the 49ers’ season, but the contending team will have some reinforcements available soon.

The 49ers designated running back Elijah Mitchell, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and backup tackle Colton McKivitz for return from IR on Monday. Each member of this trio is in the final stages of rehab from an MCL sprain. Of the three, Al-Shaair may be closest to returning. The fourth-year linebacker categorized himself as a bit ahead of schedule and expects to play against the Chargers on Sunday night, via ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner (on Twitter).

San Francisco has already used three of its injury activations this season, so some more complex navigation may begin to come into play here. Under the NFL’s new IR-return system, teams are allotted eight activations per season. It is safe to assume Mitchell and Al-Shaair will be back, with the former set to complement Christian McCaffrey and the latter the team’s No. 3 linebacker behind Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers activate McKivitz, who is the swingman behind Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey, or gives him the full three-week timetable partially to gauge how its injury situation looks later in November.

Mitchell began the season as San Francisco’s starting back but did not make it through Week 1. The 49ers found a talented player in last year’s sixth round, moving Mitchell past third-rounder Trey Sermon on their depth chart from the jump. The Louisiana product totaled 963 rushing yards in just 11 games as a rookie but has battled extensive injury trouble as a pro. Shoulder, rib, finger and knee injuries led to Mitchell missing six games last season.

After trading Jeff Wilson to the Dolphins, however, the 49ers are thinner at running back. Mitchell returning would help the cause. Third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price, who was not placed on IR following his high ankle sprain, should be expected to factor into the newly McCaffrey-headlined backfield equation soon as well.

Al-Shaair is in a contract year and saw the 49ers lock down Greenlaw. With Warner signed long term, Al-Shaair could be auditioning for other team’s during this season’s second half. He started 13 games last season but has been out since Week 3 this year. McKivitz started one game in place of Williams this year but went down with his knee injury. The former fifth-round pick is signed through 2023.

49ers Place RB Elijah Mitchell On IR, Add RB Marlon Mack

Elijah Mitchell‘s run of injuries continued with an MCL sprain. This is viewed as a rather severe MCL issue, with Kyle Shanahan expecting his starter to be out for around two months. As such, Mitchell landed on the 49ers’ IR list Tuesday.

The 49ers brought in several backs for auditions Tuesday. Old friend Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, ex-Jet La’Mical Perine and ex-Lion Godwin Igwebuike came in for workouts, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Marlon Mack visited with the team, and this appears to be the direction it will go. The 49ers are signing Mack to their practice squad, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This will be Mack’s first move out of the AFC South; the former fourth-round pick has spent his career with the Colts and Texans. Houston, however, did not keep the former 1,000-yard rusher on its 53-man roster out of training camp. The Texans cut Mack, in moving their roster to 53, and then released him from their practice squad.

Mack, 26, saw a September 2020 Achilles tear throw his career off track. The Colts turned to 2020 second-rounder Jonathan Taylor, and although they re-signed Mack in 2021, the latter did not see much action last season. The Colts discussed possible trades ahead of last year’s deadline, and the 49ers were one of the teams to express interest. But Mack played out his second Colts contract, residing behind Taylor and Nyheim Hines on the depth chart.

Mack signed his second straight one-year, $2MM deal this offseason, joining the Texans, but will come to San Francisco for P-squad money. Mack, who rushed for 55 yards against the 49ers in this year’s Texans preseason finale, totaled 2,099 rushing yards from 2018-19.

Freeman and Coleman, of course, teamed up as part of potent Falcons backfields during the 2010s. They split up in 2019, with Coleman signing with the 49ers. Freeman also played for Shanahan in Atlanta, being the team’s starting back during both of Shanahan’s OC seasons. Coleman signed a two-year 49ers deal in 2019 and played with ex-49ers assistant Mike LaFleur in New York last season. Perine’s Jets stint also overlapped with LaFleur’s.

For now, Mack is the 49ers’ choice. The sixth-year veteran joins a team rostering Jeff Wilson, third-round pick Tyrion Davis-Price and rookie Jordan Mason at running back. Wilson is expected to be the 49ers’ starter during Mitchell’s absence, and the 49ers played Mason — a UDFA out of Georgia Tech — over Davis-Price in their opener.

Elijah Mitchell Facing Extended Absence

SEPTEMBER 12: The injury could cost Mitchell a significant chunk of his second season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Mitchell is expected to miss “some time” as a result of the injury, and ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adds (via Twitter) that timetable will likely land in the two-month range.

MCL sprains typically do not produce this long of an absence, and Mitchell battled through multiple injuries to return to the field fairly quickly last season. But Kyle Shanahan has since confirmed an eight-week absence is slated, via The Athletic’s Matt Barrows (on Twitter). Wilson, who entered the season as San Francisco’s clear-cut No. 2 back, is expected to replace Mitchell as the starter. Despite the lengthy timetable, Shanahan said Mitchell is not expected to need surgery.

SEPTEMBER 11: In the second quarter of their season opener, the 49ers’ running back woes from the past few years continued as starter Elijah Mitchell left the field with a knee injury, according to Field Yates of ESPN. This was certainly not the news that San Francisco needed today, in a game that needed it to be able to run the ball well, but, with Mitchell’s injury history, the news is even more concerning for the rest of the season.

Mitchell missed six games last year and had knee surgery in the offseason that forced him to miss all of the team’s spring practices. When asked about the status moving forward for Mitchell, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters (David Bonilla of 49ers Web Zone), “I’m not sure. I know they said they thought he had a chance to come back and then they ruled him out about a quarter later, so I’m not sure yet.”

With rookie third-round pick Tyrion Davis-Price designated as “out” going into the game, San Francisco had two healthy backs remaining, Jeff Wilson, who filled in as RB1 when Mitchell was sidelined last year, and undrafted rookie Jordan Mason.

When Mitchell exited the game, Wilson was the only running back to take any carries for the offense, but he was not the only rusher. Obviously, quarterback Trey Lance had his fair share of scrambles, as expected, but after Wilson’s nine carries for 22 yards, Deebo Samuel continued his hybrid role with eight carries for 52 yards while running in the team’s only touchdown of the day. Third-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk also recorded a carry.

The lack of early news on Mitchell’s outlook may be good news, but, considering his recent surgery and injury-history from last year, a knee injury was the last thing the 49ers wanted to see. Fortunately, San Francisco has plenty of experience from recent seasons in putting together a strong rushing attack despite injuries, and the 49ers’ offense is well-designed to let key offensive players like Lance and Samuel supplement their running game when needed.