49ers

49ers rookie RB Mitchell likely to return Sunday vs. Texans

49ers

Elijah Mitchell, the 49ers' leading rusher this season, appears set to return Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Mitchell has played through myriad injuries throughout his rookie campaign, but he needed a few weeks off after suffering a knee injury in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks. He has suffered injuries to his ribs, finger and shoulder this season, and yet has managed to appear in nine games.

The young running back’s game status is officially listed as questionable, but ESPN's Adam Schefter cited a source Saturday in reporting Mitchell is expected to play. Also, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s comments Friday indicate Mitchell will see the field as much as the ball-carrier feels healthy enough to play.

“Yesterday, I thought, was his best day that he's had,” Shanahan said. “Just for a Thursday, that's really the only day this time of year that we're going full speed. And he was able to get more reps than he has had since this has happened to him. So, I think that's very encouraging, especially when he does that.”

Mitchell has carried the ball 165 times for 759 yards, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average, with five touchdowns. He also has caught 17 of his 18 targets for 126 yards.

Expect Mitchell to play alongside the 49ers' second-ranked rusher, Deebo Samuel, as well as Jeff Wilson, who will play in his eighth game of the season after recovering from a meniscus injury.

 

Mitchell, who has been limited in practice throughout the week, didn’t have any setbacks, which allowed him to participate in practice Friday. How the rookie feels throughout the weekend prior to the 49ers' 1:05 p.m. PT kickoff will impact how much he'll see the field.

Running backs coach Bobby Turner not only is responsible for Mitchell’s early success, preparing him for the speed and scheme of the game, but also for determining much he'll play against Houston. The veteran coach will keep a watchful eye on his young back, making sure he doesn’t over-exert himself.

“He didn't feel worse, which was the key,” Shanahan said. “Hopefully that'll continue all the way up to Sunday, but we'll play Elijah as much as he can handle. So, that's about watching him, watching how his legs work, communicating with him, which is really what Bobby does throughout the game.

RELATED: Lance benefiting from playing opposing QBs on scout team

“When he is tired, if he's going, Bobby doesn't hesitate. He puts Jeff in there, and we have a number of guys we can put in there.”

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast