Kyle Shanahan's San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of a season in which they're encountering incredibly unfortunate amounts of injuries, but he's not pointing to the two reserve lists -- injured and COVID-19 -- with fingers of blame.
Following the 49ers' 34-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Shanahan said despite the roster voids caused by injuries and the ongoing pandemic, his team still simply did not play as well as it should have.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge," Shanahan said. "We knew at the start of the week it was going to be a challenge, and then losing those three guys (Wednesday) was obviously a bigger challenge. I still thought we could have a game and still thought we could play better than we did tonight. Being down like that and not being at our best and going against a good team like that, that's usually what happens, but I know we could've done better."
Quarterback Nick Mullens played admirably in relief duty in Week 8, but didn't come close to reaching that same level of production Thursday night, completing 22 of 35 passes for 291 yards, one touchdown (in garbage time) and one interception. Despite his struggles, Shanahan said Friday the starting job is "firmly" in the hands of Mullens, refusing to bounce back and forth between Mullens and veteran C.J. Beathard.
In a bit of potential good news, Shanahan also said none of the doctors with whom the 49ers have communicated regarding Jimmy Garoppolo have recommended surgery on his high-ankle sprain. Garoppolo will undergo another evaluation in 4-6 weeks, per the Sacramento Bee's Chris Biderman.
In the meantime, the 49ers will sign veteran signal-caller Josh Johnson to the practice squad for roster security, Shanahan said.
Shanahan's team was without receiver Kendrick Bourne, who tested positive for COVID-19 during the week and ended up on the reserve/COVID-19 list, bringing tackle Trent Williams and receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk with him as a result of contact tracing. Bourne was removed from the list Friday following his second negative test in as many days, allowing Williams, Samuel and Aiyuk to return with him.
Shanahan said Samuel and running back Raheem Mostert "have a chance" to return for San Francisco's Week 10 meeting with New Orleans, per team reporter Keiana Martin.
The path doesn't get any easier for Shanahan's 49ers, who face the Saints in the aforementioned Week 10 meeting. At 4-5, they'll hope to get back key players lost for Week 9 and attempt to keep their damaged ship afloat as we move deeper into November.