Both the 49ers and Seahawks have multiple key players whose status for Monday night's game truly is up in the air. In fact, it's difficult to say which side would be more adversely affected if they were forced to play without those players.
On San Francisco's side, neither tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) nor kicker Robbie Gould (quadricep) practiced Friday. That's quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's No. 1 target, and the man in charge of the kicking game in what is expected to be a tightly fought contest.
Seattle's injury report isn't any better. Standout defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney (toe, knee), whom the Seahawks acquired in a trade from the Texans earlier this season, and left tackle Duane Brown (biceps, knee) both missed practice the last two days, while receivers Tyler Lockett (hip) and Josh Gordon (ankle) got in a limited session Friday. That's Seattle's best pass rusher, the man in charge of protecting quarterback Russell Wilson's blind side and the Seahawks' two most intimidating receivers.
If any of the aforementioned players misses Monday's game, it could have a drastic effect on the outcome.
The 49ers arguably have the NFL's best defensive line. Seattle's offensive line can be characterized as average at best, but it would get a downgrade if Brown didn't play Monday night. In that event, San Francisco edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa will be licking their chops.
Offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey are expected to return to game action for the 49ers against the Seahawks, and you can be sure they'd prefer not to have to go up against Clowney. On the flip side, Seattle sure would love to have Clowney available to take advantage of any lingering rustiness.
Kittle leads the 49ers with 46 receptions for 541 yards and 28 first downs. Rookie receiver Deebo Samuel ranks second in all three categories with 22, 227 and 10, respectively. Remove Kittle from the equation, and Garoppolo's life gets a whole lot tougher.
The last time these teams played, Gould kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime. He hasn't been his typically reliable self this season, but if he can't go Monday night, it would be difficult for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to have much faith in the kicking game.
Both teams have another practice Saturday, after which they'll have to issue their injury reports for Monday night's game. If any of those marquee players don't participate, it won't bode well for their chances of playing in the NFC West rivalry showdown.