49ers

49ers-Lions inactives: Mike Person, Adrian Colbert in; Ziggy Ansah out

49ers-Lions inactives: Mike Person, Adrian Colbert in; Ziggy Ansah out

SANTA CLARA – Right guard Mike Person is available to play in the 49ers’ game Sunday against the Detroit Lions after being listed as questionable with a foot strain.

Also, the 49ers will not have the services of linebacker Malcolm Smith, who will miss his 18th regular-season game in a row since signing with the 49ers as an unrestricted free agent in March 2017.

Linebacker Elijah Lee is expected to start in the absences of Smith, Reuben Foster and Brock Coyle. Foster is serving the second of a two-game NFL suspension, and Coyle is on injured reserve with a broken bone in his back.

Safety Adrian Colbert is also available to start on Sunday, as he was listed as questionable throughout the week with a hamstring injury.

Undrafted rookie guard Najee Toran is the backup right guard, and would see action if Person were not available.

The most notable inactive player in the game is Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, one of the better pass-rushers in the NFL. He is out with a shoulder injury.

49ers inactives

WR Marquise Goodwin (quadricep)
LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring)
G Mike Person (foot)
G Joshua Garnett (toe)
OL Erik Magnuson (hamstring)
OT Shon Coleman
G Matt Tobin
DT Jullian Taylor

Lions inactives

DE Ziggy Ansah
WR Brandon Powell
RB Ameer Abdullah
OL Jamil Demby
G T.J. Lang
OL Andrew Donnal
TE Hakeem Valles

How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

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How Emmanuel Sanders trade helped 49ers, likely hurt Patriots' offense

Two of the NFL’s best teams in 2019, the New England Patriots and 49ers, both faced a similar problem as the trade deadline approached.

The seemingly well-oiled machines had identified an identical issue: A lack of consistent play from the wide receivers.

While both teams attempted to rectify their passing-game issues at the deadline -- the 49ers dealt a pair of draft picks to the Denver Broncos for Emmanuel Sanders while the Patriots used a second-round pick to acquire Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta -- the results weren’t exactly analogous for the two contenders.

Sanders just completed a dominant performance in New Orleans, catching seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown -- he threw for one, too. Meanwhile, Sanu caught just one pass for 13 yards in Week 14 as New England suffered a home loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since Oct. 22, the day both players found their new homes, Sanders is averaging 10.44 receiving yards per target. Sanu? The former Falcon is averaging just 4.66 yards per target.

The 49ers reportedly balked at the price Atlanta wanted for Sanu, but the Patriots might have been better off bringing Sanders in, according to The Athletic’s Mike Sando.

"Sanu has been a solid receiver for a long time, but not as much of a downfield threat. Over the past four seasons, Sanders holds a 67-44 edge over Sanu in passes gaining more than 15 yards, despite Sanu playing four additional games. Sanu could have been a natural fit in San Francisco given that Shanahan was previously his offensive coordinator in Atlanta. He might even be flourishing there, given San Francisco’s superior surrounding talent, including George Kittle. The fit has been questionable in New England.”

The 49ers also have an obvious advantage in fielding George Kittle, who continues to cement his status as one of the NFL’s top tight-ends week in and week out.

[RELATED: Where 49ers, Raiders stand in NFL power rankings now]

But imagine what Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could have whipped up with Emmanuel Sanders stretching the field.

This might go down as a rare mistake in player personnel from the Patriots’ front office, and it also might just be the move that propels the 49ers into playing February football.

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

Chris Simms breaks down George Kittle's catch in 49ers' win vs. Saints

George Kittle made the most significant play of the NFL’s Week 14 slate, catching a short fourth-down pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and willing his way into field-goal range.

The herculean effort from Kittle set kicker Robbie Gould up for a game-winning 30-yard field goal to give San Francisco a crucial 48-46 victory in New Orleans that propelled the 49ers back to the top of the NFC standings.

Unsurprisingly, coach Kyle Shanahan diagrammed this play for Kittle to be the No. 1 option, and that’s exactly what happened.

“The rookie [C.J.] Gardner-Johnson is matched up 1-on-1 with Kittle,” NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said. “The beauty of this play is, a lot of times the 49ers will run an in-breaking route off of this, but here he had the option to break out and he breaks out.

“Gardner-Johnson, who’s kind of laying inside for it, now is at a disadvantage and he’s trailing behind and that becomes the completion to George Kittle.”

[RELATED: Injuries continue to pile up for 49ers after extended trip]

Kittle’s wise decision to break outside put San Francisco back into the driver’s seat for the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers will need to keep the momentum going as the final weeks of the season roll on in order to secure the home-field advantage NFL teams so desperately crave come postseason time.