LaFleur Taking Healthy Packers to San Francisco on Saturday
The Green Bay Packers returned from their bye week with a full roster on the practice field on Monday.
“I think it’s great,” coach Matt LaFleur said following a practice that lasted a bit less than one-and-a-half hours. “I think it speaks to the support that we have around this organization in terms of helping keep our guys healthy. I think it speaks to our players taking care of their bodies. With anything like that, there’s also some luck that’s involved there, too. We’re in pretty good shape right now.”
Kick returner/cornerback Tremon Smith and rookie inside linebacker Ty Summers were lost in the Carolina game due to head injuries but were back on the field. Tight end Robert Tonyan, who has missed the last five games with a hip injury, was the only player who was inactive vs. Carolina due to injury.
That's good news ahead of a huge NFC showdown on Sunday between Green Bay (8-2) and San Francisco (9-1) that could decide home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. LaFleur announced the team will leave for San Francisco on Saturday rather than Friday, like it did before an ugly loss at the Los Angeles Chargers. (See associated video for his reasoning.)
The 49ers were without four key players for Sunday’s come-from-behind victory over Arizona. Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle (knee/ankle), left tackle Joe Staley (finger), running back Matt Breida (ankle) and kicker Robbie Gould (quad) missed the game and pass-rushing defensive end Dee Ford was lost with a hamstring injury.
Kittle is the Niners’ top passing-game threat and arguably the best tight end in the league. The Pro Bowler leads the team with 46 receptions for 541 yards despite missing the last two games.
“He’s definitely better this week than he was last week,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said on Friday. “I want him to be healthy throughout this year. Kittle won't allow us to ever rule him out until it’s right at game time because he’s done some pretty amazing things here in the last couple of years.”
Breida is the team’s leading rusher with 542 yards and a 5.0-yard average. As was the case with Kittle, Shanahan said he wanted to make sure Breida was ready for the stretch run. Based on that, Kittle and Breida could be back for this week.
After a monster season last year with Kansas City, Ford is third on the team with 6.5 sacks. Staley, a six-time Pro Bowler, has played in only three games this season and had surgery last week on a broken finger. He is not expected to be back to face the Packers.
“I see a damn good football team. They’re 9-1 for a reason,” LaFleur said. “One of the top defenses; I think their offense is explosive. They’ve got a lot of guys that have been missing as of late and still finding ways to win games. Certainly, we’re going to have our work cut out for us. We’re going to have to play our best ball to come out of there with a win.”