The Colts currently have two kickers on their roster. They claimed rookie Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the 49ers, calling Adam Vinatieri‘s status into question.
To make room on their 53-man roster, the Colts waived tight end Matt Lengel. McLaughlin served as a replacement kicker for both the Chargers and 49ers this season. The latter waived him Tuesday.
Vinatieri has trudged through a brutal season and is now on the Colts’ injury report with a knee issue. He made it through a limited practice Wednesday. Considering Vinatieri’s injury- and performance-related concerns, McLaughlin looks set to kick for a third team this season.
In his 14th year with the Colts, Vinatieri has missed eight field goals and six extra points. The future Hall of Famer’s ineffectiveness has undoubtedly affected Indianapolis’ position in the standings. The 46-year-old specialist missed two kicks in Week 13, with one being blocked and returned for a touchdown.
The 24th-year veteran resisted an early-season retirement but has not found the rhythm from prior seasons. His 68% connect rate is the worst of his career, so it will be interesting to see if the Colts carry two kickers into their Week 14 game.
McLaughlin has made 13 of 17 field goals, with all four misses coming from between 40-49 yards, and was successful on all 15 of his extra point tries. The 23-year-old Illinois alum made the only 50-yard kick he’s attempted as a pro.
The 49ers will designate defensive tackle Kentavius Street for return, according to Matt Barrows of TheAthletic.com (on Twitter). Street will take the practice field this week and may practice for up to three weeks before the Niners decide on bringing him back.
Street missed the first three months of the season after undergoing knee surgery in early September. Between that and a torn ACL suffered before the draft, the 2018 fourth-round pick has yet to play in a regular season game. If not for the injury, Street would have been a much earlier selection.
The 49ers won’t have to cut anyone to make way for Street – the Tuesday release of kicker Chase McLaughlin left them with 52 men on the roster.
At 10-2, the Niners have all but cemented their playoff spot. They’ll face the Saints on Sunday in a monster NFC matchup, followed by games against the Falcons, Rams, and Seahawks.
Joe Staley missed last week’s 49ers blowout because of a broken finger, but the veteran left tackle returned to practice Friday and worked through a limited practice Saturday. Staley has only played in three games this season, missing most of San Francisco’s resurgence with a broken leg. He’s questionable to face the Ravens.
Sunday’s marquee game will not include Dee Ford, who remains out with a quad and hamstring injuries. Boasting one of the deepest defensive lines in recent NFL history, the 49ers are uniquely covered on this front. Ford’s stretch run, though, could be pivotal to his future. The 49ers signed the ex-Chief to a frontloaded deal that does not contain any guaranteed money after this season.
The NFC’s contender class (non-NFC East contingent) has separated from the pack, giving the conference a clear top five going into December. With the NFC-leading 49ers set for a historically brutal late-season stretch, cases can be made for each of the top five moving to the home-field advantage bracket position.
While the Cowboys and Eagles are almost certainly vying for the conference’s No. 4 seed, the 49ers, Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings comprise one of the more interesting pursuits of a conference’s No. 1 slot in recent memory. Week 17 in the NFC may not feature many starters resting.
Armed with the ninth-best defensive DVOA figure through 11 games in the Football Outsiders-developed metric’s 34-season history, the 49ers carry a 10-1 record into the regular season’s final month. They made a statement in the first leg of their difficult three-game stretch, a defensive line-keyed rout of the Packers, but still have games in Baltimore and New Orleans (both oddly staying in the early-Sunday time slot) on tap. The 49ers also conclude their season with a Seattle trip. They have not won in Seattle since 2011, when Tarvaris Jackson was at the controls for the Seahawks, and have not earned a playoff bye in seven years.
While the 49ers have the NFL’s second-toughest schedule remaining, the Seahawks’ remaining SOS is not much easier. Their final five games double as the seventh-most difficult stretch run. Seattle (9-2, No. 8 in DVOA) is 9-2 but won in San Francisco during a 6-0 road start. Following their home tilt against the Vikings, who lost in Seattle on a Monday night in December 2018, the Seahawks have a road Rams game scheduled before meetings with the Panthers and Cardinals.
New Orleans does not have it any easier, with the league’s fifth-toughest slate remaining. After the 49ers, however, the Saints (10-2, No. 6 in DVOA) face the Colts at home before outdoor games in Nashville and Charlotte. Since 1994, only the Seahawks (2013-14) and Eagles (2002-04) have earned the NFC’s No. 1 seed in back-to-back years. Illustrating the stakes for the Saints: they are 6-1 at home in the playoffs under Sean Payton, with the loss obviously coming in controversial fashion last season, and 1-5 on the road during the Payton-Drew Brees era.
The Vikings (8-3, No. 7 DVOA) sit 11th in the December SOS rankings but do have each of their divisional home games remaining, with a “road” game against the Chargers mixed in. Were they to stick the landing and reach the playoffs, it would mark an extraordinarily rare run. With no Viking quarterback helping the team to two postseason berths since Daunte Culpepper, Kirk Cousins guiding Minnesota to January football would make six different starting quarterbacks since Culpepper’s 2004 season to lead the Vikings to the playoffs.
With two of their worst offensive games of the decade occurring in November trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Packers (8-3, No. 10 DVOA) have cooled off considerably. They do, however, have by far the easiest road to January among the NFC’s premier quintet. Only the Eagles and Browns face a worse run of opponents than the Packers, who draw the Giants, Redskins, Bears and Lions. The Packers have not earned a playoff bye in five years but appear a stealth threat to make such a push this season.
So which of the NFC’s powers will end up securing home-field advantage? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts on this race in the comments section.
November 29th, 2019 at 11:10am CST by Marc Delucchi
49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis left practice on Wednesday with what could have been a serious knee injury, luckily, the sophomore wideout’s injury appears to just be a sprain that is not a cause for long-term concern, according to Ian Rapoport. The injury does make his status this week uncertain, but should not limit him later in the year.
This season has gone as good as anyone could have expected for the 49ers, but that has not been the case for Pettis. The team’s second round pick in 2018 appeared poised for a breakout after a strong finish to his rookie season. However, he found himself at the bottom of the team’s depth chart at receiver and has been unable to take advantage of limited opportunities.
In 2019, Pettis has appeared in all 11 49ers games (4 starts) this season and hauled in 11 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. For what it’s worth, Pettis only had 11 receptions and 189 yards at this point last season before recording 262 receiving yards in his next four games.
Pettis may be on the border of the 49ers plans going forward, but a season-ending injury could have spelled the end of his time in San Francisco. Matt Barrows of The Athletic reported that either Pettis or wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who is dealing with minor injuries of his own, will be inactive this week in San Francisco’s big game in Baltimore against the Ravens.