WR Samuel among returning 49ers squad

WR Samuel among returning 49ers squad

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After dealing with a lot of bad injury news in the first eight weeks of the season, the San Francisco 49ers are finally closer to full strength.

Despite losing cornerback Jason Verrett to a season-ending left Achilles tear in practice Wednesday, the Niners received plenty of good news on the injury front on Friday as they host at eight players who missed San Francisco’s last game – a 31-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 30 – through injury.

Among the players playing Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers are wide receivers Deebo Samuel (hamstring) and Jauan Jennings (hamstring), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (finger) and linebacker Dre Greenlaw (calf). According to coach Kyle Shanahan, four players – running back Elijah Mitchell, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, offensive lineman Colton McKivitz and defensive end Jordan Willis – will all return from knee injuries that placed them in casualty reserve.

The Niners have three open spots on the roster and will get a fourth when they place Verrett on injured reserve, a decision that should happen within the next 24 hours.

Picking up so many key players as they head into the second half of the season has the 4-4 Niners believing big things are possible in the aftermath.

“This is the grind of the season now, the stretch that we’re about to go on, and we need all of our guns,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “And it’s great to see some familiar faces there. … We’re going to need them.”

Samuel, Juszczyk and Jennings have each missed just one game, but having this trio allows the offense its first opportunity to see what things look like when Samuel and recently acquired running back Christian McCaffrey work in tandem with a group of skill positions that also includes tight end George Kittle. , Mitchell and receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

“It’s so crazy the firepower we have in this offense now with the addition [McCaffrey] to the team with all the other guys we have,” Samuel said. “It’s going to get crazy. It’s going to be hard to cover everyone there, and it should be really fun.”

The defense will also benefit from some post-bye reinforcements. The return of Al-Shaair and Greenlaw means the 49ers’ trio of main linebackers will be together for the first time since Week 3.

Al-Shaair’s return is coming a little earlier than expected, but he said on Monday he felt good and ahead of schedule after his rehabilitation with Mitchell.

“In reality, it was like six to eight [weeks], but initially I thought it would be eight,” Al-Shaair said. “You’re usually conservative up front. And then you just see where each person goes, and I was doing a lot better than they thought. So I was able to get back to it.”

The news wasn’t all good for the Niners, who lost cornerbacks Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley (torn left ACL) for the season and will be without defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot, ankle), who was ruled out on Friday. Defensive end Samson Ebukam (quadriceps) is listed as a doubt.

Even without those players, the Niners know the value of giving others a chance to be on the field. Shanahan said that could be beneficial as the Niners are still in the playoff mix with other players having the chance to play meaningful snaps.

“It helps a lot,” Shanahan said. “When you lose guys it puts you in a bind. The only good thing about losing guys is that it gives other people a chance to grow because they have to go through hardships. And sometimes the only time you improve is to go out there and get your butt off and realize what you gotta do in this league because you can’t always fake that…. If you still can’t get your team back, it can make your team a bit stronger.

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