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Golden Nuggets: Only one team has suffered more injures than the 49ers this season

Your daily San Francisco 49ers links for Wednesday, November 18, 2020

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke for about 17 minutes on Tuesday afternoon but he said quite a bit. Shanahan was confident about the team’s playoff chances, open about Jimmy Garoppolo’s future—something we’ll discuss later today.

Kyle Shanahan says 49ers plan to put in claim for Takk McKinley

Cincinnati won McKinley’s rights that time, but announced that they waived McKinley with a failed physical designation on Tuesday. Shanahan told reporters later in the day that the failed physical is not dissuading the team from taking another shot at acquiring the 2017 first-round pick.

“I was told today that Takk failed his physical and I know we put in a claim last time,” Shanahan said, via 49ersWebzone.com. “I don’t think that’s until tomorrow at 1 p.m. PT, but I know we plan on putting another claimer in.”

The Browns and Raiders reportedly joined the Bengals and 49ers in making claims last week. The 49ers have a higher position in the waiver order than Cleveland or Las Vegas, so McKinley will likely be headed to Santa Clara unless someone else decides to jump in this time.

Still Fighting: 49ers Post-Week 10 Under Reaction

They are a quarterback away from becoming elite once again

Captain Obvious from the hotels dot com commercials could point out the injuries are holding this team back. But it’s deeper than that.

The 49ers had opportunities to win an additional two games. In the very first game of the season, Jimmy Garoppolo missed a wide-open Kendrick Bourne for the game-winner and in Week 4 Nick Mullens hit an Eagles defender right in between the numbers like every quarterback is taught (well taught with their receivers, not a defender). Those two games alone put this team at 6-4.

Then to throw some salt and squeeze some lemon on our wounds. The quarterback play was completely incompetent versus Miami, Seattle, Green Bay and New Orleans. Maybe just maybe if the 49ers saw average quarterback play, I am sold that one of those four would’ve been a different outcome.

Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers most injured in NFL in the 2020 season

So far, 2020 has been quite the season for NFL players and it will likely result in a renewed appreciation for the preseason. Injuries have mounted up across the league in varied and significant ways, leaving no team untouched.

Two NFC West rivals have suffered more than their fair share this year, and just after midseason the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are dealing with more losses than any other team.

The Seahawks have now lost three out of the last four games, and it’s painfully obvious their defense is not strong enough to cope with the missing athletes.

Tracking all NFL players currently on injury reports, Seattle and San Francisco are one and two, with 29 and 27 players injured, respectively. The list does include COVID-19 opt outs, so Chance Warmack is listed for the Seahawks, for example.

SF 49ers: 5 free agents who won’t be back in 2021

No. 5: SF 49ers Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon

The SF 49ers are in a tough position with their cornerbacks, especially considering Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Emmanuel Moseley (RFA), Jason Verrett and Ahkello Witherspoon are all pegged for NFL free agency next season.

It’s likely Witherspoon, the team’s third-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, is about as good as gone next year, as he lost the starter’s job alongside Moseley to Verrett, and Witherspoon has now found himself frequenting the weekly inactive list despite this unit being without Sherman for almost the entirety of 2020.

Witherspoon has had some splash moments, yes, although the inconsistency from him has been the most frustrating thing to watch.

Shanahan urges 49ers to give injured players reason to return

The 49ers currently have 16 players on injured reserve and several more out due to injury, though they hope to get several players back following the bye week, including Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Tevin Coleman and Richard Sherman. While coach Kyle Shanahan knows that getting his starters back on the field will help the team’s chances of winning, their presence alone will not be enough to guarantee more victories.

“I have high expectations for our team and I know our team does also,” Shanahan said Tuesday. “We’re going to get some guys back who help us, but we can’t count on those guys coming back like they are just going to be the answer.

“Those guys can help, but we need everyone who has been playing to get a lot better, coaches included and I believe that we can.”

San Francisco 49ers begin extended player evaluation after the bye - San Francisco 49ers Blog- ESPN

Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN’s front-office insider and former NFL general manager, said the biggest test for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch is separating themselves from players they might really like but who might not fit in anymore.

“I think one of the real underrated aspects of team-building is the ability to correctly evaluate your own,” Tannenbaum said. “Of all the great things that Bill Belichick does, he really evaluates his own in a very sober, dispassionate way. I think San Francisco is going to have a little bit of that inflection point where some of these players on IR, like where are they in their careers and can they really ask those honest questions? Or will they bring back players next year just because they’re brand names?”

With a whopping 40 players scheduled for some form of free agency, and decisions needed on the futures of high-priced players under contract such as Garoppolo, center Weston Richburg and end Dee Ford, the Niners could look drastically different next year.