Even with players such as Joe Staley, Ahkello Witherspoon, Kyle Juszczyk and Mike McGlinchey out with injuries in recent weeks, the 49ers have kept rolling.
Now the Niners – the NFL’s only undefeated team at 8-0 – will start to welcome some of those players back into the starting lineup, perhaps as soon as Monday night’s NFC West clash with the Seattle Seahawks.
Pro Bowl left tackle Staley and fullback Jusczyk are the most likely to play against Seattle, reports Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, with right tackle McGlinchey and cornerback Witherspoon not far behind. If they don’t return against Seattle, they’ll be back for the next game, Nov. 17, vs. the Arizona Cardinals.
It’s been a testament to the solid play of backup tackles Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s use of tight ends in the backfield as blockers to keep the 49ers on a winning track – and give the team even more depth as the season progresses.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner says it’s exciting how the team has overcome adversity to keep its focus and continue to win, which is all the more encouraging for what this season could produce.
“We’ve been playing really well with guys down and the (backup) guys have been stepping up really well,” Buckner told Wagoner. “To have some of those guys back is going to be very exciting. We’ve been missing them for a couple weeks and the fact we’re 8-0 without them just shows the depth on this team.”
Tight end George Kittle told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee that it’s been “incredible” how well replacements have filled the injury gaps.
“Being able to fill the cog in the machine and just keep rolling,” said Kittle.
So, the outlook is bright for the 49ers with key players returning (and even with the painful recent loss of linebacker Kwon Alexander).
But, even with a full cast, the 49ers are likely to be severely tested Monday night at Levi’s Stadium against the Seahawks, who at 7-2 are just behind the 49ers in the NFC West. Seattle is coming off two straight victories, a 27-20 over Atlanta and a 40-34 (in overtime) decision over Tampa Bay.
Kickoff Monday is set for 5:15 p.m.