San Francisco 49ers

Kilgore ready for first snaps at center; Wilhoite has high-ankle sprain

Michael Wilhoite could miss his first game since he took over at inside linebacker last season.
Michael Wilhoite could miss his first game since he took over at inside linebacker last season. The Bee

SANTA CLARA -- Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst on Thursday indicated that Daniel Kilgore, who was tapped as an emergency tight end in Chicago, would be back to playing his usual role of center this week.

“We’re excited about Kilgy coming back and playing center, so you’ve got to find some other candidates on the roster” who could step in and play tight end in a pinch, Chryst said. “It’s amzing how many defensive guys raise their hands thinking they can play tight end.”

Whether the 49ers will have to tap someone new for the position depends on how quickly Vance McDonald progresses through the league’s concussion protocol. McDonald did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Neither did outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who also suffered a concussion Sunday.

When he left Sunday’s game against the Bears, the 49ers were down to one healthy tight end, rookie Blake Bell. Kilgore and fullback Bruce Miller filled in from that point forth. The 49ers also could elevate a tight end from the practice squad -- Brian Leonhardt is the likely candidate -- if McDonald can’t play or is questionable.

As for Kilgore, he said he hasn’t been told whether he would start at center, back up Marcus Martin or alternate series with Martin.

“Marcus has done a good job overall,” Kilgore said. “So there’s no rush or anything, but it’ll be nice to go back to center.”

Wilhoite’s ankle -- Linebacker Michael Wilhoite said he’s dealing with a high-ankle sprain suffered Nov. 29 against Arizona and that he was unlikely to play Sunday in Cleveland. If he doesn’t play, it would be his first missed start since he took over as inside linebacker last season. Gerald Hodges is expected to start in his place.

Wilhoite was not in a boot and on crutches like tight end Garrett Celek, who also suffered a high-ankle sprain and was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. Still, high-ankle sprains typically are multi-week injuries and Wilhoite’s return date is unknown.

Injuries -- Tackle Joe Staley (knee) practiced on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday’s session. Receiver Torrey Smith (back, toe), however, missed practice. He had not been on Wednesday’s report.

Sacramento Bee reporter Matt Barrows with five things for a SF 49ers win when they visit the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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