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NN Mailbag: Injury breakdown, offensive adjustments, dealing with adversity, the Jimmy G punch and more

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Addressing your 49ers comments, questions and concerns before the 49ers’ Week 6 matchup against the Rams.

Cleveland Browns v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers’ highly anticipated Week 5 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams is quickly approaching. It’s a critical game for both teams. A 49ers win means they extend their undefeated streak and lead over the NFC West. A win for the Rams means snapping a two-game losing streak and keeping them in the divisional hunt along with the Seattle Seahawks.

We’re back with our weekly mailbag column. You’re welcome to drop questions in here for next week’s mailbag or tweet me @Rob_Lowder.

Who was the more significant loss, FB Kyle Juszczyk or RT Mike McGlinchey? Zack

In any normal offense, the answer would always be McGlinchey. But we’re talking about Kyle Shanahan here, who utilizes a fullback more than any other team in the NFL. Juszczyk is a crucial cog in the 49ers offense and the best at his position. It’ll be easier for the 49ers to adjust to the change at right tackle than it will be the fullback. Jusczcyk is expected out four to six weeks with an MCL strain, but it sounds like he’s going to attempt to come back sooner. How the 49ers adjust in the meantime will be a key storyline moving forward.

Is Levi’s Stadium or the practice facility to blame for the 49ers’ bad injury luck? Marcus

The 49ers have lost four starters in four games. McGlinchey (knee) and Juszczyk (knee) joined left tackle Joe Staley (leg) and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (foot) on the injury list following the Cleveland Browns win. None of these injuries should be blamed on the field conditions at Levi’s or the practice field, though. It’s just football, and the injury bug has run rampant on the 49ers over the past couple of seasons. Staley’s leg was fractured after a collision with running back Raheem Mostert. McGlinchey’s knee was Iikely injured when a 300-pound defensive lineman was thrown into the back of his legs. Neither of those could’ve been avoided. The field issues with Levi’s Stadium is a thing of the past, and for now, the 49ers’ injuries just seem to be more bad luck than anything else.

How do you think the offense changes after the losses of Juszczyk and McGlinchey? Mekaiel

The 49ers and left tackle Justin Skule did a good job of adapting to the loss of Staley through two games. Skule has held his own while Shanahan and Garoppolo have made an effort to ensure the ball is out quickly. The loss of McGlinchey will involve more of the same tactics, utilizing tight ends and running backs to help assist RT Daniel Brunskill in pass protection. Adapting to Juszczyk’s injury will prove more difficult. The 49ers fullback’s reliability and versatility is not something duplicated by a tight or running back, which is what Shanahan will attempt to do. The team worked out multiple fullbacks this week but didn’t sign any of them. The loss of “Juice” stings. We’ll find our how much on Sunday.

Do you think this 49ers team has the fortitude to deal with the injuries? Brandon

That I do, Brandon. Stemming all the way back to training camp, the 49ers have shown grit and confidence in 2019 that wasn’t as prevalent over the last two seasons. Shanahan and his team know they’re good enough to win, and they’ll approach these injuries as another challenge to overcome. Beating teams won’t come as easy as it has over the first four weeks, but the 49ers seem to have the mindset to battle through adversity as it happens - something they’ve always shown under Shanahan.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the team performances in the midst of losing so many key players.

With both LT Joe Staley and McGlinchey out, should the 49ers pursue a trade for Washington LT Trent Williams? Mose

The 49ers are expected to get Staley back in three to four weeks. The team likely doesn’t feel that’s a long enough absence to justify a costly trade, even for a player as good as Williams. Shanahan also said during a press conference this week that he didn’t get the impression that Washington was willing to deal Williams, despite the holdout. I think the 49ers are going to ride this one out in the hopes that both Skule and Brunskill can hold on long enough for Staley and McGlinchey to return.

Who steps up at running back and wideout for the rest of the season? Shane

The 49ers don’t need anyone player to step up at running back. Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert combine to create one of the NFL’s best backfields. The group currently leads the NFL, averaging 200 yards per game. At receiver, your guess is as good as mine. Marquise Goodwin has been consistent, but neither Dante Pettis nor Deebo Samuel has stepped up opposite the veteran speedster. Both have authored some great moments along with egregious drops over the past couple weeks, with Pettis’ would-be touchdown against the Browns standing out as the worst. With injuries at both tackle spots and at fullback, Shanahan will be hoping a receiver can step up to keep the 49ers offense moving.

What is DL Solomon Thomas’ trade value? Should he be dealt to help reinforce the roster? Steve

The 49ers’ No. 3 pick in 2017 has become the forgotten man on the team’s impressive defensive front. Between Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner, and Arik Armstead, there isn’t much room for Thomas to make an impact. He may be better suited to another team where he can play a more prominent role. I would assume Thomas holds 3rd- or 4th-round value for another team, but that may be optimistic considering his expensive rookie contract. Thomas is due $9 million in 2020, none of which is guaranteed. Thomas is an option for the 49ers if they choose to pursue another player or future draft capital before the trade deadline on October 29th.

Any fines come from the punch to QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s face during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns? Eddie

The 49ers quarterback didn’t seem too concerned with the punch he took from Olivier Vernon on a reverse to Goodwin. Garoppolo stumbled briefly before standing up and attempting to impede Vernon, who promptly responded with a left hook as he pursued Goodwin. It likely should’ve been flagged for some form of unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but wasn’t. No fine has been issued yet. Thankfully, Garoppolo was unphased, despite the shot spinning him around like a top.

Are any Rams starters going to miss Sunday’s game? John

The Rams’ injury report on Thursday includes a few starters. Running back Todd Gurley is dealing with a significant leg bruise that could see him on the outs Sunday. LB Clay Matthews broke his jaw against the Seahawks and won’t be playing. Veteran cornerback Aqib Talib also sat out with a rib injury. It’s unclear if he’ll be on the field against the 49ers. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks (concussion), LB Bryce Hager (shoulder), LB Natrez Patrick (hamstring) and S Taylor Rapp (ankle) were all limited.

How will the shorter week affect DL Dee Ford? Samuel

The 49ers have been taking it easy with their marquee free agent this season. Trading and signing him away from the Kansas City Chiefs, Ford came with some injury concerns when he joined the team. Knee tendonitis has plagued the veteran pass rusher throughout camp, and the training staff has elected to withhold him from the majority of weekly practices since the start of the season. Ford practiced in limited fashion on Thursday, and the same should be expected on Friday. With no new injuries, 49ers fans can expect to see Ford on the field come Sunday.