Is Elijah Mitchell playing today vs. the Vikings?
Will we see San Francisco 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell play in Week 12 against the Minnesota Vikings as he battles both a finger and rib injury? Let’s take a look at the latest updates on Mitchell, whether we can expect to see him Sunday, and what options the 49ers have if he is inactive.
Is Elijah Mitchell playing Sunday as he battles finger and rib injuries?
When it was first reported that Mitchell had a finger injury and would need surgery, the 49ers appeared optimistic he would not miss any time. However, he was subsequently ruled out of their Week 11 game. Mitchell was able to return to practice on a limited basis this week but still enters the weekend questionable.
On Friday, head coach Kyle Shanahan seemed positive about Mitchell’s progress.
“He got better each day. He was able to do everything, except we just kept guys from hitting him. If he’s not 100% confident in how he feels, then we won’t put him out there. So it’s mainly just getting to that point, and I think he’s getting closer to being that.”
It seems as though the decision is somewhat in the rookie RB’s hands in terms of how he feels. With four other RBs on the 53-man roster, the 49ers do not need to push Mitchell if he is uncomfortable. In the early hours of Sunday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Mitchell is expected to play in Week 12.
What will the 49ers do if Mitchell cannot play in Week 12?
It has been a case of RB injury roulette for the 49ers this season. Jeff Wilson Jr. started the season injured. Raheem Mostert suffered an injury in Week 1. Then, both Mitchell and fellow rookie Trey Sermon were hurt in Week 2. That left the 49ers scrambling, and now they have five running backs on their 53-man roster.
Of those five, JaMycal Hasty has already been ruled out with an ankle injury. Wilson has returned and lines up alongside Hasty on the 49ers’ depth chart. He is supported by Sermon and Trenton Cannon. If Mitchell cannot play, Wilson would likely get the start in his place, although his numbers were not impressive in Week 11 (19 carries for 50 yards). Wilson led the backfield with 19 carries, Sermon had 10, and WR Deebo Samuel had 8.
Injuries are hurting a promising rookie season
There has been a lot to like about Mitchell’s rookie season. He has 560 rushing yards on 116 carries at an average of 80 yards per game. He has been used in a limited fashion in the passing game, but he has very much been the lead back in the run game for the 49ers since they lost Mostert in Week 1.
In Week 10, Mitchell had 27 of the 49ers’ 37 RB carries against the Rams. That workload provided optimism that he would remain the lead back even after Wilson returned. However, the injury has now given Wilson time to establish himself. Coming back from injury, Wilson is now getting the opportunity to practice with the starters and impress on the field.