Tyler Lockett

NFL rumors: 49ers played key role in Tyler Lockett's injury recovery

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NFL rumors: 49ers played key role in Tyler Lockett's injury recovery

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett returned to the field Sunday, reportedly thanks in part to the 49ers. 

Lockett was hospitalized in the Bay Area after seriously bruising his shin in the Seahawks' "Monday Night Football" win over the 49ers on Nov. 11. San Francisco gave Lockett a "Game Ready" device -- which "offers hot and cold compression therapy systems for acute and chronic injury recovery," according to its website -- after the hospital did not have one, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, citing sources. 

"Had San Francisco not stepped in, it's unclear if Lockett would have been able to be back on the field so quickly," Rapoport wrote. 

[RELATED: Kittle reportedly broke bone in ankle in Week 9 vs. Cards]

The 49ers didn't deliberate much about stepping in, according to Rapaport. A team source told him that the 49ers "have a lot of respect" for Lockett, who has scored more touchdowns (four) against San Francisco than all but one NFL team. 

Lockett will have a chance to thank the 49ers for their reported role in his recovery later this season. The 49ers and Seahawks conclude the regular season in Seattle on Dec. 29. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, Russell Wilson prepared for 49ers-Seahawks 'dogfight'

Jimmy Garoppolo, Russell Wilson prepared for 49ers-Seahawks 'dogfight'

All eyes will be on Santa Clara on Monday night when the Seahawks visit Levi's Stadium to face the undefeated 49ers. 

At 8-0, Kyle Shanahan's team has rolled over just about everyone in their path to this point, but their NFC West rival poses their stiffest challenge to date. 

The long-time bullies of the NFC West, Seattle enters the "Monday Night Football" clash at 7-2, buoyed by the MVP-level play of quarterback Russell Wilson and powerful running game.

A win Monday night would put the 49ers on the fast track to winning the division and locking up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. A loss, however, would bring them back toward Seattle, with a treacherous second-half schedule still to come.

For the Seahawks, they enter the game against their division rival no longer the team with a vaunted defense, looking to choke the life out of their opponent. That honor now belongs to the 49ers, who own the NFL's second-best scoring defense led by a powerful defensive line and former Seahawks star Richard Sherman. 

Coming into the biggest game of his 49ers career to date, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is ready for what he knows will be the ultimate battle.

"It's a great opportunity for us," Garoppolo told ESPN's Steve Young on an interview to air on "Monday Night Countdown." "We've had a couple division games this year. Division games are always going to be tough and we know that. It's going to be a dogfight out there on Monday night but we're looking forward to it."

After opening the season 8-0, the 49ers have every right to feel like one of the favorites to head to Miami and play for the Super Bowl. They've been dominant in almost every aspect of the game, with each position group starring at times. The undefeated record, though, hasn't changed the 49ers' locker room.

"It's not that different," Garoppolo told Young about the feeling around the 8-0 Niners. "There's confidence. There's definitely a confidence, but we haven't been talking playoffs, we haven't been talking Super Bowl, all that stuff. One week at a time, and honestly, we've taken that mindset this entire season and it's worked out well for us."

Garoppolo enters the game as one of the biggest question marks surrounding the 49ers. He's thrown for 1,806 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season while completing 70.6 percent of his passes. The 49ers' defense has carried the day for most of the season, allowing Garoppolo to find his footing after missing last season with a torn ACL.

There are no question marks around Wilson, though. Deemed the MVP front-runner by many, the Seahawks star has been sensational this season, Following his five-touchdown performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wilson now has thrown 22 touchdowns and only one interception.

The task of facing the NFL's lone undefeated team is one Wilson and the Seahawks are looking forward to, but they aren't focused on the bagel San Francisco still has in the loss column.

"I think for us, we've been preparing for moments like this, opportunities -- championship opportunities all season," Wilson told ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson. "Every game matters. Every practice matters. I think this is a great opportunity. They look great on film. They are playing great football. They are one of the best teams in the NFL. It's been interesting to watch how good they've been playing. It's going to be a battle.

"It's about our season, it's not about theirs necessarily," Wilson continued when asked if ruining an undefeated season means anything. "We got to continue what we're doing. We've been playing great football. The great thing is we can play even better. That's what we're looking forward to. it's about our season and what we're trying to do."

What Wilson and the Seahawks are trying to do is put a chink in the 49ers' armor. They'll look to establish the run early, using powerful back Chris Carson to pummel the 49ers' run defense, which has been mediocre this season. Getting Wilson into second- and third-and-manageable will keep San Francisco's front four from pinning their ears back and coming after Wilson.

Wilson's top target, Tyler Lockett, faces a crucial matchup against K'Waun Williams, who has been one of the best slot corners in the NFL this season. Will Wilson test Sherman on the outside with rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf or Josh Gordon? Can the 49ers defense keep him contained in the pocket and stop him from extending plays and creating big plays down the field?

For the 49ers, the addition of Emmanuel Sanders has taken the passing game from "break in case of emergency" to a bonafide threat. Garoppolo got the air attack going in Week 9 against the Cardinals, throwing for four touchdowns in the win. The Seahawks will look to bottle up Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and the 49ers' running game Monday night and make Garoppolo beat them. Getting Sanders going in the slot early will open up the playbook for Shanahan and force the Seahawks to alter their gameplan.

[RELATED: Jimmy G has chance to make statement in 49ers vs. Seahawks]

The 49ers are expected to be without star tight end George Kittle, who has been battling through knee and ankle injuries, while the Seahawks are expected to have newly-acquired wide receiver Josh Gordon on the field.

After being dormant for a few years, one of the NFL's best rivalries returns Monday night.

Dogfight. Battle.

Call it whatever you want, it promises to be a lot of fun.

49ers, Seahawks in danger of being without key players Monday night

49ers, Seahawks in danger of being without key players Monday night

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.

[RELATED: Kittle's status still in doubt as 49ers-Seahawks nears]

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.