The 49ers probably would promote preseason star Marcus Rush to the active roster only if another outside linebacker were placed on injured reserve, coach Chip Kelly said Thursday.
And that hasn’t been discussed. Yet.
One possible candidate is Aaron Lynch, who suffered a high-ankle sprain Oct. 23. Lynch returned to practice last month but has not yet been cleared to play and still has a slight limp when he practices. Kelly said there is a possibility Lynch could be back this Sunday against the New York Jets, seven weeks after the injury.
“We think he’s made progress,” Kelly said. “One of the things that’ll be interesting is, can he do it two days in a row? … We’ll see and hopefully if we can get him through. We’d love to be able to get him up and get him ready to go on Sunday.”
And if he can’t play? Has the team discussed putting Lynch on injured reserve?
“No,” Kelly said. “We haven’t had that discussion yet.”
Lynch sat out the first four weeks of the season because of a suspension and admitted that during the offseason he was 30 pounds heavier than his ideal weight. Kelly said he didn’t think the weight gain was that much and said Lynch currently is in the 280-pound range.
“The one thing that is amazing about Aaron is his athletic ability – I don’t think there were any issues in that area,” Kelly said. “As a matter of fact, he was one of the leaders in our conditioning test.”
Lynch had one sack in three games he’s played this season. The rest of the team’s outside linebackers have combined for six sacks. The 49ers have 20 sacks on the season, tying them with Sunday’s opponent, the New York Jets, for 30th in the NFL. Only the Cleveland Browns – 17 sacks – have fewer.
Rush, meanwhile, was a preseason standout for the 49ers, recording six sacks in the four exhibition games to go with an interception and a broken up pass. He landed on the practice squad and has spent 2016 mimicking the opposition’s top pass rusher in practice.
Kelly said the team isn’t considering promoting Rush to boost its pass rush.
“No, we haven’t talked about that,” he said.
Kelly gives thanks – Kelly publicly thanked the York family for the way they helped him and his girlfriend, Jill, fly via private jet while Kelly was juggling the death of his father in New England and coaching the 49ers in Chicago.
“They had a plane ready for me when we landed in Chicago on Friday night and I got an opportunity to fly to New Hampshire and be with my mom,” Kelly said. “And then to be able to fly back for the game and then be able to fly back for the funeral and then be able to fly all the way back here and then to be able to fly Jill from here to Chicago to meet me so that we could go together. They were godsends, to be honest with you.”
Et cetera – Left tackle Joe Staley injured his hamstring at the end of Wednesday’s practice and did not take part in Thursday’s session. If he can’t play Sunday, left guard Zane Beadles likely would play tackle and Andrew Tiller or Marcus Martin would step in at guard. The team also could make rookie tackle John Theus – inactive for the first 12 games this season – available if Staley cannot play.
▪ Linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who tore his Achilles’ tendon Oct. 2, is out of a walking boot and is moving without a limp. Bowman has reached a new phase in his rehabilitation, including walking on the team’s underwater treadmill and working out in the weight room among the other players – Arik Armstead, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Bruce Ellington, etc. – who have been put on injured reserve this season.
▪ Defensive lineman Quinton Dial (elbow) returned to practice on a limited basis. Running back Shaun Draughn (ribs) practiced again in a blue, no-contact jersey.