The 49ers and the words “good news” are rarely synonymous when injuries are the topic at hand. But, this week, there is a reason for optimism. As of now, things are trending in the right direction for the 49ers to have their superstar tight end return from injured reserve this weekend after missing the last three games with a calf injury. George Kittle returned to practice this week, and barring any setbacks, is likely to suit up for the 49ers against the Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers' offense is getting back a key piece at just the right time. Kittle’s versatile ability to impact the game as a devastating run blocker, as well as being a reliable target in the passing game, will now be added to an offense that finally found its footing in Chicago.
Beyond the field, Kittle also brings back with him the intangible ability to be a lightning rod electric energy that might just be the jolt this team needs as it sets its sights on making a run at the playoffs.
Kicker Robbie Gould is also poised to make his return this week. He brings with him an incredibly reliable leg that is as valuable as ever on the heels of the 49ers missing multiple extra points during his three-game absence with a groin injury.
Gould may not have the ability to drill deep field goal attempts with ease. Still, his dependable accuracy will do wonders for a team that’s beginning to ramp up its scoring chances in opponents' territory.
Running back, Jeff Wilson Jr. also had his practice window opened this week, putting him on track to return sooner rather than later from a knee injury that has held him out for the entire season thus far. On KNBR Friday morning, general manager John Lynch said, “there’s a chance” Wilson is in uniform Sunday and that Wilson is in “tremendous shape.”
Wilson Jr. brings with him not only experience within this system, but also a running style that offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel described as “aside from getting yards, he breathes life into the offense.” Wilson Jr. would be the perfect complement to the burgeoning star that is Elijah Mitchell, and his return is something to monitor moving forward.
Also returning to practice in full were Azeez Al-Shaair and Dee Ford, who both missed the Week 8 game in Chicago due to concussions suffered the week prior. It’s no secret how much success the 49ers' defense has with Ford compared to when he is not on the field, and I would argue Al-Shaair has been the 49ers' best defensive player this season. The return of both players is a huge boost to a defense that felt like it was treading water last week without the pair.
The 49ers were hit hard early with the injury bug. Still, at this moment, the positive thing is they are slated to get back some pivotal pieces over the next few weeks, getting healthy at just the right time as they set their eyes towards making a run at one of the seven playoff spots up for grabs in the NFC. So buckle up. There is a lot of football left to be played.