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The San Francisco 49ers will be without Elijah Mitchell for the second-straight game. The rookie has been in the concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head in Week 13 and notably, is also working through a knee injury sustained in the same game.
Expected to be cleared from the concussion protocol over the weekend, his knee irritation is what has been worrisome. Per head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers aren’t certain the running back will even be back to full strength ahead of their quick turnaround for a Thursday night tilt in Tennessee.
“I’m not optimistic, but I hope so,” Shanahan said. “It’s just the pain tolerance with the knee. We thought it would have gone down faster and it hasn’t as quickly as we thought it would.”
Sunday was scheduled to be a favorable matchup for Mitchell as San Francisco is scheduled to face off against an Atlanta Falcons defense that is allowing over 117 yards to opposing offenses, the 23rd-worst mark in the league.
The 49ers will lean on Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty to man San Francisco’s backfield. Deebo Samuel, who has registered 218 yards and five touchdowns rushing over the last four games to 146 yards and one score receiving, will likely provide added relief to the 49ers ground game.
Standout linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair will also be sidelined against Atlanta. After a strong start in Week 14, Al-Shaair exited the contest near the end of the third quarter after making an attempted tackle and did not return. After undergoing imaging on Monday, the linebacker suffered an elbow sprain, which has held him out of the week’s practices and will ultimately keep him off the field on Sunday.
The team will already be without fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw for the third-straight week as he continues to nurse a re-aggravated groin injury. That leaves Fred Warner, Marcell Harris, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Tyrell Adams as the lone healthy linebackers on the active roster heading into the weekend.
It’s worth noting that Dontae Johnson will be active on Sunday. The cornerback missed the team’s Week 14 matchup due to a personal matter, but is expected to get the start opposite Josh Norman against the Falcons.
As for Atlanta, safety Erik Harris (chest) was ruled OUT heading into the weekend and placed on the Injured Reserve list on Saturday. Outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. (calf), who was questionable heading into the weekend is expected to play.