Receiver Marquise Goodwin is back with the 49ers following his two-game absence and is expected to play Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
He participated in every practice and team meeting this week, coach Kyle Shanahan said, while his return could give San Francisco a much-needed jolt.
“I think it was good just for ’Quise to be back in the building all week,” said Shanahan. “We all know that he’s dealing with some things and hopefully for him it gave him the chance to just get away from some of that stuff and to come in and be around his teammates and just play football to get his mind off of some things.”
Goodwin left the team the night before Nov. 25’s game in Tampa Bay to return to the Bay Area to deal with a family matter. He remained away from the Santa Clara facility for the better part of the week.
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He didn’t make the trip to play the Seattle Seahawks and instead watched from home. But he indicated in front of his locker on Friday that he’s looking forward to getting back to football alongside his teammates.
It was the first time Goodwin has spoken to reporters since taking his leave. He declined to offer specifics regarding the issue. General manager John Lynch during an interview on KNBR radio Friday termed it a “tragedy.”
Said Goodwin: “It’s been awesome, man, just to feel the love from my team. ... Just being around them and preparing for this week, it’s been great for my morale personally. And hopefully that adds a different element on game day for the whole team.”
The 49ers (2-10) are hoping to break a three-game losing streak since their victory in early November against the Raiders. The Broncos (6-6) are coming to Levi’s Stadium having won three in a row since their bye week, and find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC.
They’re tied with the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts and are one game behind the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) for the final Wild Card spot. The Tennessee Titans improved to 7-6 with a win Thursday against the Jaguars.
The 49ers on Friday ruled out receiver Pierre Garçon for Sunday, marking four consecutive games missed for the 32-year-old. Garçon hasn’t played since the victory against Oakland Nov. 1 because of an ongoing knee injury.
That means San Francisco will continue to rely on rookie second-round draft pick Dante Pettis, who has three touchdowns in his past two games, including a season-high two last week on the road against the Seahawks. His touchdowns both came in the second half and went for 17 and 75 yards, respectively.
Pettis had been filling in at Goodwin’s “X” receiver role and will likely be tasked with playing Garçon’s “Z” position with Goodwin back in the mix.
“He’s capable of playing all of (the receiver positions),” Shanahan said of Pettis. ”(I) definitely don’t want to give all the answers to the test yet. But, we’ll have ’Quise up, so we’ll have five (receivers) this week, which helps. So, we’ve got a little bit more flexibility in what we can do.”
Pettis in his last three games has 13 catches for 218 yards. His four receiving touchdowns tie him with Goodwin for the team lead.
Goodwin, who has just 17 catches for 339 yards on the season, had his second-most productive outing in his last game against the Giants Nov. 12 with four catches for 69 yards. Only his two-touchdown game against the Packers in October (four receptions, 126 yards) saw a higher output.
More shuffling in the secondary? — Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) was ruled out for Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, making it likely the 49ers start their ninth different combination of safeties in 13 games.
Rookie Marcell Harris is expected to get his second straight start at strong safety, with either Antone Exum Jr. or rookie D.J. Reed playing free safety.
Also, slot cornerback K’Waun Williams is listed as questionable with a knee injury. He popped up on the injury report Thursday and was a limited participant in the last two practices of the week. If Williams can’t play, Reed is the the team’s top backup in the slot, which makes it likely Exum plays free safety.
Running back Matt Breida was officially ruled out of the game with an ankle injury. Breida told The Sacramento Bee he hasn’t missed a game since his freshman year in high school with a fractured arm. He’s been dealing with ankle injuries each week since the loss Oct. 7 to the Cardinals.
No Brock for Broncos — Former 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock (ribs) won’t be available Sunday for his return to Levi’s Stadium. San Francisco’s new regime released Brock in April 2017 following an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.
He was accused of punching and strangling his girlfriend, though charges were dropped August of 2017 by Santa Clara County prosecutors due to insufficient evidence when the alleged victim declined to participate in the investigation.
Brock was not disciplined by the NFL and spent last season with the Minnesota Vikings before signing a one-year deal with the Broncos last March.