Veteran receiver Pierre Garçon has been battling knee and shoulder injuries in recent weeks which will likely lead to him sitting out Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.
“He’ll probably be doubtful for the game this week because of that,” Shanahan said. “... Pierre is someone who can help us. But, in order for him to be at full strength, his knee needs to heal up. If hit does, he’ll have much better opportunities to help us.”
Garçon averaged 63 yards per game in 2017 and was on pace for 80 catches and 1,000 yards before suffering a season-ending neck injury last October that cost him the final eight games.
He’s logged just 33 yards per game this year, which is his worst since his four-reception rookie campaign in 2008.
Garçon’s injury issues fall in line with a recurring theme among San Francisco’s receivers: The inability to stay healthy. Garçon has played in every game despite getting banged up. But Marquise Goodwin (thigh, hamstring), Trent Taylor (back) and rookie Dante Pettis (knee) have combined to miss six games while the offense has struggled with continuity.
“It definitely makes it a little bit tougher just not having the same guys getting the same reps every week,” quarterback C.J. Beathard said Wednesday. “It’s nice to have a routine, same guys in there. Obviously, it would help to have everyone healthy as it would at any position, but that’s part of football and you’ve just got to go with the guys that you have in there and trust in them.”
Of the 49ers five leading pass catchers, Garçon and Taylor are the only receivers. Tight end George Kittle (32 catches, 527 yards) is far and away the team’s most effective weapon in the passing game, while fullback Kyle Juszczyk is third on the team with 19 receptions for 245 yards.
San Francisco got some good news Wednesday with the return Pettis to the practice field. The recent second-round draft pick sustained a knee injury in the first quarter of Week 4’s loss to the Chargers on a punt return and could offer an explosive replacement should Garçon sit out.
“It excites us,” said Shanahan. “He tried to go last week at this time, but it was just a walk through. You could tell through walk through, just watching him and talking to him that it was too soon. We gave him a whole another week. He feels good, he’s excited to go today.”
Pettis, the No. 44 pick in the recent draft, said he’s never dealt with a knee injury like the one he suffered in L.A. He admitted to being uneasy before undergoing an MRI which showed there was no significant structural damage.
“I don’t normally swell up at all,” Pettis said. “I was kind of nervous because of (the swelling.)“
Pettis has just three receptions this season, which all came during the first two games of the season. His highlight was his 22-yard touchdown catch in the second half of the season opener against the Vikings. But the league’s 23rd-ranked passing offense has missed his ability to stretch the field, particularly while Goodwin was missing time.
Shanahan optimistic about Breida – Running back Matt Breida missed practice Wednesday after re-aggravating an ankle injury injury against the Rams that limited him to a season-low five carries. But Shanahan has optimistic the second-year pro would be available to play in Arizona.
“He’s looking a lot better these last two days than he did on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “We’re definitely giving him today off. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. If he’s good, we’ll throw him in practice and evaluate him from there.”
Breida, who still leads the NFL averaging 6.5 yards per carry, hasn’t missed a game despite dealing with ankle, knee and shoulder injuries throughout the season. Regardless of his status, the 49ers figure to rely on his backup Raheem Mostert regularly, who has rushed for 146 yards on 19 attempts (7.68 average) the past two games.
49ers name captains – Players voted on team captains this week, which was confirmed by a team spokesman after first being reported by ESPN. They are defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, cornerback Richard Sherman, left tackle Joe Staley, Kittle and kicker Robbie Gould.
The team waited until midseason to decide on captains rather than naming them at the start of the year. Teams are allowed six players at midfield during the coin toss before the games. The 49ers will rotate players in the available sixth spot each week.
Watson’s window opened – Linebacker and special teams standout Dekoda Watson was eligible to practice this week after starting the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury suffered before the season opener. He will be eligible to rejoin the active roster in time for the next game against the Raiders Nov. 1.
Rookie safety Marcell Harris is one week ahead of him. The Florida alum will also be available to rejoin the team in time for that Thursday night game against Oakland.
Limited in Wednesday’s practice – G Mike Person (knee), Pettis (knee), C Weston Richburg (knee), Sherman (calf), CB Jimmie Ward (hamstring).
Full participants – LB Reuben Foster (shoulder), G Joshua Garnett (toe), S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder).