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Golden Nuggets: Should the 49ers feature Brandon Aiyuk more?

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Thursday, October 8, 2020

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Philadelphia Eagles v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We received good news on Wednesday as Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert returned to practice. Hopefully, that trend continues for the rest of the week and both players suit up this Sunday.

49ers get Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert back at practice

If both play Sunday against the Dolphins, the 49ers will have their top running back, their two most talented receivers — Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk — their top tight end, George Kittle, and Garoppolo on the field together for the first time this season. Still missing from the offensive equation: tailback Tevin Coleman, who will miss a few more weeks with a knee sprain, and tight end Jordan Reed, who is out until November with a sprained knee.

Over the last two weeks, Kyle Shanahan has teased that Garoppolo, who suffered a high ankle sprain against the Jets, could possibly play in the next game only to have Garoppolo sit out the victory over the Giants and the loss to the Eagles. This time, the quarterback appears to truly have a shot.

Peter King: Jimmy Garoppolo needs to play, provide answers for 49ers

“This is a year that’s really, really important for Jimmy Garoppolo,” King told Damon Bruce, Ray Ratto, and Matt Kolsky. “Everybody knows that. And this is a year that they need some answers with Jimmy Garoppolo. The only way you’re going to be able to see those answers is by him playing football. So, there’s not really much to say about that, other than he needs to play.”

If he doesn’t play, if he’s in and out and maybe gets hurt one more time, I don’t know what you do if you’re the 49ers,” King continued. “I really don’t know what you do. But you need to find some answers with Garoppolo this year, and that’s why it’s incumbent on him and on the 49ers to make sure that he plays enough this year, that you have, at the very least, a short-term answer for what you want to do at that position.”

5 Changes the 49ers Need to Make Entering Week 5

With Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert out with knee injuries over the last two outings, Jerick McKinnon has logged 38 touches between carries and receptions. He’s been the lead ball-carrier and was second on the team in targets (eight) for Week 4.

While McKinnon has been productive—he’s averaging 7.8 yards per reception—the 49ers can potentially rack up more yards in open space with Brandon Aiyuk in a featured pass-catching role.

In Week 3 against the New York Giants, Aiyuk displayed his versatility and ability to extend plays, recording 101 yards from scrimmage and a score on eight touches. During Week 4, he saw five targets. None of the 49ers wideouts eclipsed 35 receiving yards.

Aiyuk has an aspect of his skill set comparable to Deebo Samuel’s capabilities. He can turn short completions into big plays with breakaway speed. The rookie wideout averages 12.1 yards per reception. Whoever starts under center should look to feed him on quick throws to combat poor pass protection or overcome lapses in the ground attack.

Furthermore, the coaching staff may want to refrain from overloading McKinnon given his history of knee injuries while Mostert and Coleman remain on the sideline.

The First Dolphins-49ers Injury Report of Week 5 and What It Means

Tackle Austin Jackson (foot), defensive end Shaq Lawson (shoulder/illness) and tight end Durham Smythe (knee) did not practice Wednesday as the result of new injuries sustained in the loss against the Seattle Seahawks.

Head coach Brian Flores said Wednesday morning the team had a few different options at left tackle in the event Jackson is not able to play — moving Jesse Davis over from right tackle, using rookie second-round pick Robert Hunt, or going with Julien Davenport, who filled in for Jackson for 25 snaps in the second half against Seattle.

If Lawson can’t play, that could mean the NFL debut of rookie fifth-round pick Jason Strowbridge, who has been inactive for every game so far.

Cornerback Byron Jones, who has missed the past two games because of a groin injury, was one of three players listed as limited participants by the Dolphins on Wednesday.

Sherman won’t come off IR before 49ers-Dolphins Week 5 game

Sherman is not listed on the 49ers’ injury report because he remains on IR. He is eligible to come off IR this week, but he remains sidelined to allow his calf another week to heal. Sherman said on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast Featuring Richard Sherman that he is eyeing a Week 6 return against the Los Angeles Rams.

On Wednesday, Shanahan confirmed that timetable.

“He was hoping he can get back and practice this week,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “Just looking at him yesterday and stuff, we’re going to hold him a little bit longer. I’m hoping he continues to improve and I’m hoping he’ll be ready for next week. I’d be surprised if he got in later in this week.”

Dolphins coach was wowed by Jimmy Garoppolo at Patriots’ practices

“My time with him was very good,” Flores said Wednesday on a video call with Bay Area reporters. “You could see the talent very early. You could see the leadership early. He’s just a great kid. I’m really happy for him and the success he’s had.”

For most of the next 3 1/2 seasons, Garoppolo served as the scout-team quarterback. His main responsibility was to run the offense of the Patriots’ upcoming opponent to get the team’s defense properly prepared.

“He would make throws and make you turn back and go, ‘Wow, that was a good one,’” Flores recalled. “Just watching him in preseason games and practice, we all knew he was going to be a good player. And it has definitely turned out that way.”