The 49ers face off with the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium following their bye week. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Niners. On top of avoiding traveling, the team will return key players for the divisional game and beyond.
Let’s rank the most important players returning for Saturday’s matchup.
McCaffrey probably could have played if the 49ers had something on the line in their season finale. Regardless, having the offensive player of the year back and as rested as possible is a very good thing. Facing a Green Bay defense that can be had on the ground is the perfect mixture of success for McCaffrey and the 49ers.
Armstead returning is a welcome sight. The defensive line will start with Chase Young, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, and Nick Bosa. This line will be ready to go after the extra rest, and Armstead’s presence is right on time for the stretch run. The run defense gets a boost with Armstead’s return.
The rookie returning and starting is a boost for this defense. Brown has flashed while going through some rookie moments, but this defense is better with him in the lineup. The 49ers’ next potential opponent has impressive Tampa Bay and Detroit receivers. Brown will be necessary to slow down those groups.
Tashaun Gipson Sr.
Gipson is as solid as it gets at safety. His return brings stability to the defense. The 49ers’ goal is to limit explosive plays and play discipline. Gipson is what the doctor ordered for a team embarking on a Super Bowl run.
The biggest adjustment out of the bye week for the 49ers and Steve Wilks was inserting Ambry Thomas into the lineup on the outside and kicking Deommodore Lenoir into the slot. Thomas has rewarded the 49ers and Wilks’ faith with great play. As the 49ers advance, Thomas will be a vital part of the 49ers game plan.
Say what you want, but the 49ers are missing Jennings’s presence on third down and blocking in the running game. Ronnie Bell is going to be a fine player, but Brock Purdy is missing his third down target that refuses to go down on first contact. Jennings’s return is a huge boost for an offense with stars at every position.