The San Francisco 49ers secured a stunning overtime win on Sunday, and it was a hard-earned victory. The first half had not yet concluded, and the 49ers were already challenged by several injuries. Somehow, with creative lineup adjustments, the team held it together for a surprising and emotional overtime win in Chicago.
The first player to come out of the game was Michael Wilhoite, who sustained an ankle injury. He walked off of the field under his own power, but gingerly, and would not return to the game. Gerald Hodges began making more appearances on the field.
Not too much time had passed before Ian Williams was down on the field, injuring his knee, followed by Vance McDonald sustaining a concussion. Although Williams returned to the game after a short time, McDonald did not. This created a shortage at the TE position, with rookie Blake Bell being the only other active TE. Long snapper Kyle Nelson can technically play tight end as well, but never does. This caused recently activated center Daniel Kilgore to make his 2015 debut, lined up in a TE set.
Daniel Kilgore came in and Bruce Miller came in on all TE sets. We call it 13 personnel but we were really in 11. We call Kilgore a heavy guy but....[laughs]. No, but they did a tremendous job.
Daniel Kilgore who said that he has practiced at the TE position and even caught passes said this:
I feel comfortable at tight end, center, whatever, running routes, whatever I need to do, I feel comfortable with it.
LB NaVorro Bowman also left the game in the first half after a blow to the head which gave Nick Bellore, who plays mostly on special teams, more reps. Bowman cleared the concussion protocol and returned to the game on the second play of the second half (he missed the first play due to a misplaced mouthpiece). This was quickly followed by Aaron Lynch sustaining a concussion shortly after. Lynch would not return to the game.
I read the screen. The guy cut it up inside of me. I wanted to dive in, and I dove in, but the pursuit, I think it was Quinton Dial, his knee and his shin hit me right on top of my head, I was kind of woozy, but I went in and did the concussion protocol. Passed all the tests and was able to return.
Vance McDonald - concussion, Michael Wilhoite - that same ankle, it got dinged there. You all saw that. Lynch - concussion. I just saw both of those guys and they looked fairly well. Bowman left the game, he had to get checked to make sure he did not have a concussion. He was obviously cleared, they brought him in and checked him by all the doctors, protocol and did a great job there, and it was determined he was ok. Other than that, had some bumps and bruises, you saw us moving some people around through portions of the game but everybody else went back in.
We will see what happens this week as the protocol continues for the injured 49ers. If Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald are looking like they will unable to make the trip to Cleveland, there will be a need to add or adjust personnel somehow. What began as the deepest skill position in training camp, has now been reduced to one healthy player.