“McCloud is expected to play Sunday in the 49ers’ regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.”
“These are what are known as first-seed problems. Nearly every other team would love to be grappling with the same conundrums Kyle Shanahan is dealing with this week, all of which boil down to this: How does he keep his roster fit and fine-tuned before the first playoff game on Jan. 20 or 21?”
That is, Darnold thought, if nothing else, a one-year reset in a cutting-edge offense overseen by accomplished coaches who could help him realize his potential.
“It’s a really good system,” Darnold said Thursday. “I mean, there’s just answers for everything. I’m not going to sit here and compare it to any other system that I’ve been in. But there’s just answers for everything that the defense does and that allows the quarterback to go out there and play fast.”
Darnold didn’t play with an offensive teammate who was named a first- or second-team All-Pro with the Jets or Panthers. On Sunday, however, he’ll play with four offensive teammates who have earned All-Pro honors since 2019. At least for a moment.”
“We want to do it at running back. Christian [McCaffrey] can go. We have two more running backs on our roster. Man. I want JP [Jordan Mason] and Elijah [Mitchell] for the playoffs, too. They’re a big part. But if I rest them, then JP or Elijah’s got to do the whole game just by themselves. What if we rest Deebo [Samuel] and [Brandon] Aiyuk? Hell yeah, we want to rest them. Now, Jauan [Jennings]and Ray-Ray [McCloud] and Ronnie [Bell]—three receivers for an entire game can be very difficult.
“And why don’t you use an extra tight end? Well, I’d also like to rest [George] Kittle. And so we got two tight ends left. And there’s two tight ends on the field a lot at one time. Well, especially if we ever want to rest Juice [Kyle Juszczyk], because then you don’t have a fullback, so it’s kind of a chain reaction.”
Shanahan’s dilemma is that, as he mentioned, the 49ers have multiple injured players who cannot or should not be playing in this game. When you have several players out, it makes it difficult to sit other players because you risk injuries to those who are playing. For example, the 49ers’ two starting safeties, Ji’Ayir Brown and Tashaun Gipson, are both injured and cannot play in Sunday’s season finale. That means Isaiah Oliver will have to play safety, meaning he can’t help out at corner, so there may be a corner that you’d like to rest but now you can’t.”