The first quarter of the season for the San Francisco 49ers acted as a double edged sword. While they were winning football games in convincing fashion, they were simultaneously losing key players to injury. From offensive tackle Joe Staley in week two to Ahkello Witherspoon in week three.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan revealed today at his presser that the 49ers are aiming for week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks as a return date for their injured key players. The 49ers are making the right decision to not rush some of their injured players for Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.
This team has been performing at an elite level without them, so there isn't a pressing need to bring them back. During last week's slate of practices, Joe Staley made a return to the field in limited fashion. There was even an "outside chance" of him playing in last Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, as well as a chance to go against the Cardinals.
“No setbacks, I think it was just tough not having a full practice this week." Kyle Shanahan on why Staley is doubtful for Thursday night. "I think if we did, I think I’d be and he would be a little more optimistic about it. I’m sure he could if we just committed to it, but it’s pretty risky when we don’t put him through a bunch of stuff today and tomorrow. We weren’t able to do enough last week, so all that stuff plays into it.”
This statement applies the same to Witherspoon, Mike McGlinchey and Kyle Juszczyk. Had this week's game been on Sunday, then these players would be more likely to have returned. Once again, with how elite the 49ers have played this season they do not have to rush these guys back. Their temporary replacements have been performing beyond expectations, which is an enormous factor as to why the 49ers can afford to take their time.
Week 10 will be the goal for these injured key players to return. Luckily, their matchup with the Seahawks that week is on Monday Night Football, which gives them an extra day to see where their injured players are at. If they are able to go, then they will undoubtedly suit up on primetime against a very good division opponent. The 49ers' schedule has officially started to pick up in terms of difficulty, so they are getting their key players back at just the right time.