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Injury updates: Richie James suffered a knee injury and will miss six weeks

Brandon Aiyuk has a “slight hamstring” injury, but should return to practice next week.

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 49ers received some not-so-good news on the injury front on Friday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said wide receiver Richie James suffered a knee injury that requires surgery. James will miss at least six weeks.

My guess would be Travis Benjamin takes over the punt return duties. Shanahan talked about how you have to contribute as a wide receiver and a special-teamer when asked about Benjamin, Nsimba Webster, and the fringe wideouts.

According to Shanahan, Brandon Aiyuk has a “slight hamstring” injury but is expected to return to practice sometime next week. I hope Aiyuk’s injury is nothing serious. Hamstrings for skill players especially are nothing to play around with.

A year ago, at this same time, Aiyuk suffered a hamstring strain that lingered and forced him to miss Week 1. The Niners should let Aiyuk take his time and sit out an extra week if need be. Don’t rush back, have a setback, and end up missing Week 1.

Jason Verrett has plantar fasciitis, and Dre Greenlaw has a hip injury. Shanahan said both are minor injuries, and the team was playing it safe by keeping them out this week. Neither will play against the Raiders on Sunday. Verrett was out on the field Friday during the team’s walk-through practice.

Shanahan said he hasn’t spoken to Nick Bosa yet, but “odds are he probably won’t play. But I haven’t decided for sure yet.” The 49ers head coach added that Dee Ford wouldn’t play on Sunday, either.

Jaylon Moore suffered a stinger. Jauan Jennings suffered a heel injury. That’s why both were held out of practice recently, but they’ll suit up on Sunday.

So, to recap who won’t suit up Sunday against the Raiders:

  • WR Richie James (knee)
  • WR Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring)
  • LB Dre Greenlaw (hip)
  • CB Jason Verrett (foot)
  • WR Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring)
  • DE Dee Ford (rehab)
  • Nick Bosa (maintenance)

Shanahan said he plans to play his starters close to a half on Sunday. However, he added that he’d pull some of the starters earlier if he’s satisfied with what he’s seen.

As for the quarterbacks: “I definitely want to get Trey some looks with the 1s in there.”

Shanahan was asked if playing two quarterbacks would increase the probability of the team keeping a third quarterback on the roster: “Not much. You only have two up on game day. So it doesn’t affect it.”

There’s an argument to be made that the odds of an injury increase when you play two quarterbacks. So that could sway the 49ers to keep a third QB.

Jalen Hurd received another vote of confidence. This time, from his head coach:

“I’ve seen Jalen, and I know he’s one of our top six receivers. So that’s not an issue…but it’s such a scary thing and hard decision for the 53 when others are there…You’ve got to make sure guys are healthy enough to play through the year.”

The message here seems clear, and Shanahan echoed what John Lynch said on KNBR earlier on Friday for Hurd. Don’t have any setbacks physically after the game on Sunday, and you’re on the team.