The 49ers haven’t gotten much production from their receiving corps during their 6-0 start, leaning heavily on their running game to complement their stout defense. They’ve been mentioned in reports recently about having interest in upgrading at the position before the trade deadline next Tuesday.
However, Kyle Shanahan indicated Monday the team isn’t operating with urgency to upgrade at the position.
“I think less (urgency) than we’ve had the last couple years. Because I do see the that there are guys in our building that I do think the answers are here,” Shanahan said.
The 49ers rank 25th in the NFL in passing yards per game (214.5) while calling throwing plays at the lowest rate in the NFL. Those numbers are a product of the team leaning heavily on the second-ranked rushing attack while playing with a lead throughout the majority of their games.
San Francisco on Sunday in Washington was without rookie Deebo Samuel because of a groin injury and Marquise Goodwin left early to get checked for a head injury and wound up playing just seven snaps. Samuel leads the team’s wideouts with just 15 catches for 168 yards. Both Samuel and Goodwin are expected to be healthy for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Dante Pettis, a 2018 second-round draft pick, has just nine catches for 83 yards in six games.
Still, Shanahan’s offense is averaging 26 points per game, ranking No. 11 in the NFL, after Sunday’s 9-0 victory in Washington. It entered the weekend third in scoring (29.4 points per game). Jimmy Garoppolo ranks ninth in the NFL in averaging 7.9 yards per attempt.
“The guys we have I still think can continue to get better,” Shanahan said. “We’re still holding out hopes to for Jalen (Hurd) and Trent Taylor that they can heal up and hopefully return later this year. So always looking to improve .. but I do like the guys we have here.”
Both Hurd and Taylor remain on injured reserve. Hurd sustained a fracture in his back in August and Taylor had surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot. Taylor is eligible to return any time after the Week 11 game against Arizona Nov. 17 and Hurd could come back two weeks later.
Injury updates on Joe Staley, Ahkello Witherspoon
Left tackle Joe Staley, working back from a fractured left fibula sustained Week 2, had an extensive workout before the game in Washington and has an “outside chance” at returning Sunday, Shanahan said.
“I think he’s going to try to get out there and practice a little bit this week,” Shanahan said. “These next two days are big.”
Staley has said his goal was to return at some point in late October. Returning to practice is important this week even if he doesn’t play against Carolina. The 49ers will likely only have walkthroughs or light practices before the following game in Arizona Thursday on Halloween.
▪ Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had a minor setback last week as looks to return from his foot injury suffered Sept. 22 against the Steelers. His status is up in the air for this week.
“I was hoping for (his return this week),” Shanahan said. “Had a little bit of a setback last week, not big. But I think it’d be pushing it this week. There’s still an outside chance, but not as much as I did last week.”
▪ The 49ers are likely going to reinstate long snapper Kyle Nelson this week, said Shanahan. He’s eligible to return from his 10-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing substance policy dating back to last season. He would be the team’s fourth long-snapper of the year.