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Javon Hargrave and Dre Greenlaw missed their second practice in a row

The San Francisco 49ers may be thin on defense this Sunday against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the following players did not participate during the 49ers practice:

DT Arik Armstead (foot/knee)
RG Spencer Burford (knee)
LB Oren Burks (knee)
TE Ross Dwelley (ankle)
LB Dre Greenlaw (hip, ankle)
DT Javon Hargrave (hamstring)
CB Ambry Thomas (personal)
CB Charvarius Ward (groin)
LT Trent Williams (rest)

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that the team was only going half-speed, but outside of Williams, those are some notable starters.

According to the beat reporters on hand for practice on Thursday, Armstead, Hargrave, Greenlaw, Mitchell, Burks, and Dwelley all missed again.

Left guard Aaron Banks was also added to the injury report. He was listed with a hip injury.

Burford and Thomas returned, while Mooney worked on the side of the field.

Generally speaking, if you don’t practice on Thursday, you’re doubtful for Sunday. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. There are also exceptions to the time of year and the schedule.

If this were a playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, I’m not sure we’d have to worry about missing half, if any of the players listed above. But it’s not. And the 49ers are expected to win this game comfortably.

If you’re Shanahan, do you rest the likes of Hargrave, Ward, and Greenlaw and hope they recover for next week’s showdown against the Baltimore Ravens? It’s a risky proposition. The Cardinals have run the ball well with Kyler Murray, so missing three starters down the middle of your defense will make life more difficult.

This game, in terms of scheduling and the spot, feels eerily similar to December 2019 against the Falcons. San Francisco headed into that game as double-digit favorites. They were missing key starters defensively. They were sleepwalking through the game and let Atlanta hang around.

Now, the setting is different. The 49ers are on the road this week, compared to being at home then. But this Niners team just played the Seahawks twice and sandwiched in between that was a date with the Eagles. Not to mention, next week’s game.

In 2019, The 49ers had beaten the Packers handily and beat the Saints on the road. Their next game was at home against a lousy Falcons team. They lost, but would go on to beat the Rams and Seahawks to close out the season.

It feels like a stretch to say that the Niners will lose to the 3-10 Cardinals, but Kyler Murray and Jon Conner have been successful running the ball during the previous month. If the 49ers do indeed play this game without several key starters, the game may be uglier and sloppier than expected.