SANTA CLARA — Welcome back, Tevin Coleman, to the 49ers’ rushing attack.
And hello to Willie Snead IV and Malik Turner, a pair of wide receivers who’ve come up from the practice squad today, in response to the likely inactivation of Danny Gray and perhaps another wide receiver.
And goodbye for at least four games to linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair. After spraining his right knee in last Sunday’s loss at Denver, Al-Shaair was placed Monday onto the injured reserve list, likely for a short-term stint than season-long exit.
Of those pregame moves — announced three hours before kickoff against the Los Angeles Rams — keep a close eye on Coleman’s potential season debut.
Coleman figures to either play in relief of Jeff Wilson Jr. or even take over the starting role, which Coleman appeared in 11 games for the 2019 49ers in their NFC Championship-winning season. Coleman played just eight games for the 49ers in an injury-shortened 2020 (knee sprain), then spent last season with the New York Jets.
“Tev has that explosiveness to him that he can really hit it and go and really enjoy the way he can do that, so it’s good to have him back that way,” run-game coordinator Chris Foerster said Friday. “You still see it, man. He hit a play up the sideline the other day and you just saw the acceleration. It was nice to watch him accelerate up the side. He’s still got it.”
Coleman’s most noteworthy games with the 49ers: a 105-yard, two-touchdown effort in their 2019 team’s playoff-opening win over Minnesota, and a four-touchdown show in an October 2019 rout of Carolina.
Wilson surfaced on the injury list Saturday when he was limited with a heel injury. He replaced an injured Elijah Mitchell as the starter the past two games. Other options in the backfield, beside Deebo Samuel’s cameos, are Jordan Mason and Marlon Mack.
More intrigue is swirling at wide receiver. Gray (hip) was listed as doubtful Saturday, but could there be another inactivation afoot? Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Ray-Ray McCloud have been the 49ers’ top three wide receivers. Jauan Jennings’ second season has included a couple gaffes, such as a missed block on the goal line in Week 2 and a drop last Sunday.
Snead was one of the 49ers’ scout-team players of the week, after mimicking not only Cooper Kupp but also receiver/fullback Ben Skowronek. Coach Kyle Shanahan on Saturday praised Snead’s effort and competitiveness: “He never backs down. We we’re down some receivers this week with just reps, which means you have to do scout team and you also have to go in with the regular team, which can kill a guy and you never hear him complain. He just keeps going.”
Al-Shaair’s injury to his medial collateral ligament cast him into the same fate as Mitchell, who’s MCL sprain in the season opener will shelve him into November.
Other 49ers already ruled out this game: left tackle Trent Williams (ankle), running back Ty Davis-Price (ankle), tight end Tyler Kroft (knee) and safety Tarvarius Moore (hamstring).
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