SANTA CLARA — NFL leading rusher Christian McCaffrey will miss San Francisco’s regular-season finale with a mild calf strain but should be ready to return for the playoffs.
McCaffrey got hurt in Sunday’s 27-10 victory at Washington that helped the 49ers clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. San Francisco (12-4) will host a divisional round playoff game on either Jan. 20 or 21, giving McCaffrey nearly three weeks to heal.
“We’re real confident on that,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday about McCaffrey being ready for the playoff opener. “It was good news. Could’ve been a lot worse. We’re happy it’ll take care of him this week. Hopefully he’ll start getting to go during our off week.”
McCaffrey leads the NFL with 1,459 yards rushing and 2,023 yards from scrimmage and is tied with Miami’s Raheem Mostert for the most touchdowns with 21.
Elijah Mitchell will take over the starting running back role this week against the Rams. Mitchell had 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Commanders in his most extensive action of the season.
Shanahan said he hadn’t decided yet on whether he will rest any healthy players, including quarterback Brock Purdy, for the finale now that San Francisco has nothing at stake against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
“It is really a hard thing to do and it’s not always the best thing to do too,” Shanahan said about giving players a week off. “So, we’re going to take everything into account, but it’s still something we’re going to continue talking about throughout this day and tomorrow.”
In other injury news, starting cornerback Ambry Thomas will have surgery Tuesday on a broken hand but likely will be back for the playoff opener.
San Francisco will get receiver and return specialist Ray-Ray-McCloud back at practice this week after a stint on injured reserve. McCloud missed the past five games with injured ribs.
Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot, knee), tight end Ross Dwelley (ankle) and safety Ji’Ayir Brown (knee) are expected to miss this week to get more time to heal.
Receiver Jauan Jennings and offensive lineman Jaylon Moore remain in concussion protocol.
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