NBC Sports

49ers activate RB Wilson for Week 9 with Mitchell ailing

NBC Sports

Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. is in line to make a sooner-than-anticipated return to the 49ers.

The 49ers on Saturday activated Wilson off the physically-unable-to-perform list in order to be available to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Wilson's activation was among a number of roster moves, including the team's decision to place defensive end Dee Ford on injured reserve with a back issue. Ford must sit out at least three games before he is eligible to return to action.

The 49ers also waived defensive lineman Zach Kerr.

As expected, the 49ers activated tight end George Kittle and kicker Robbie Gould from injured reserve. The 49ers also elevated linebacker Tyrell Adams and veteran safety Tony Jefferson from the practice squad to be available to play in Sunday's game against the Cardinals.

Wilson’s return to the 49ers’ 53-man roster appears to be an indication that rookie running back Elijah Mitchell will be held out of the Week 9 game due to a rib injury he sustained last week against the Chicago Bears.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said on Friday that the team’s decision on whether to activate Wilson would be connected to Mitchell’s status for Sunday’s game. He said Wilson has looked strong enough to show he was capable of returning to action.

“One, it had to do with how he looked this week,” Shanahan said of Wilson. “He had a great week. But that is only three practices in, but he looked as good and ready as he could be. So from a health standpoint and everything there was no question on that.

 

“Ideally, in the perfect world, I'd like to give him a couple more practices too. But with Elijah being questionable and the way he looked this week, that's why it's an option.”

Mitchell is the 49ers’ leading rusher with 433 yards and three touchdowns on 81 rushing attempts for a 5.3-yard average. He also has four receptions for 30 yards while appearing in five games with four starts.

Wilson led the 49ers last season with 600 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 126 attempts (4.8 average). He caught 13 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

Wilson sustained torn meniscus cartilage in his knee in a freak accident while lifting weights during the team’s offseason program at their Santa Clara headquarters.

"He was sitting down, talking to some teammates, he got up and as he got up and turned, felt a pop in his knee and kind of got stuck," 49ers general manager John Lynch said in describing Wilson’s injury. "And he could tell something was wrong."

Wilson was not expected to be available to return to action until late November, Shanahan said recently. But Wilson made break-through progress with his physical therapy in recent weeks to prompt the 49ers to open his practice window this week.

RELATED: 49ers' Bosa cherishes return to football field after depressing 2020

One of the finest moments of Wilson's NFL career came against the Cardinals in 2019. In his only offensive play of the game, he caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo with less than a minute to play to give the 49ers a 30-26 lead at Levi's Stadium.

The 49ers face the Cardinals in a key NFC West game at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers (3-4) enter Week 9 just outside the NFC playoff picture. Arizona and the Los Angeles Rams are tied atop the NFC West standings with 7-1 records.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast