The 49ers were awaiting word on medical testing Monday to determine the status of running back Christian McCaffrey, who suffered an injury to his rib area in a 19-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“He’s in MRI’s right now so we’re still waiting on the imaging,” coach Kyle Shanahan said in a conference call with local writers.
The good news is that left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (shoulder) received “day to day” designations, meaning they may miss a practice or two but have a decent chance of facing the Minnesota Vikings.
The 49ers (5-1) have an additional day to rest up, with a road assignment against the Vikings (2-4) awaiting on Monday Night Football.
Samuel was the first to depart, playing just nine snaps and rushing two times for 11 yards. He was on the bench before the end of the first quarter and ruled out at halftime, watching the rest of the game from the sidelines.
On the 49ers’ first snap on their opening 84-yard touchdown drive, Samuel ran for eight yards around right end. He carried a second time on the 49ers’ second possession for three yards. He was targeted by quarterback Brock Purdy just once on an incomplete pass.
With Samuel out, Ray-Ray McCloud played a season-high 44 snaps on offense, the most he’s played since having 38 against the New York Giants when Brandon Aiyuk was out with a shoulder injury. He was targeted just twice, catching one pass for four yards.
Jauan Jennings also had a season high with 33 snaps, catching two passes in four targets for 26 yards.
McCaffrey, who didn’t miss a game last season with either Carolina or the 49ers and was a workhorse for the first five games of 2023, rushed 11 times for 43 yards and caught three passes of nine net yards, including a 13-yard touchdown on a shovel pass from Purdy to open the game.
It was the 15th consecutive game that McCaffrey scored a touchdown. The versatile running back came on pace for 404 touches rushing and receiving, which would eclipse by one the 403 he had in 2019 when he became the NFL’s third back to rush for 1,000 yards and catch passes for 1,000 yards along with Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk.
Television cameras caught McCaffrey attempting to stretch his torso while sitting on a bench in the third quarter. He returned to the game and had a 6-yard run which was wiped out by a penalty. He left the game and was headed to the locker room by the end of the quarter.
In all, McCaffrey played 36 snaps. In his absence at running back, Jordan Mason played 15 snaps and had five rushes for 27 yards and a 7-yard touchdown run set up by Deommodore Lenoir’s interception and 28-yard return early in the fourth quarter.
It was Mitchell’s first game back after missing the Arizona and Dallas games because of an injury sustained in practice.
McCaffrey leads the 49ers with 553 yards on 100 carries, followed by Mason (21 for 107 and two touchdowns), Samuel (18 for 95) and Mitchell (18 for 49). Ty Davis-Price has played in just one game, carrying six times for 21 yards late in a blowout win over Dallas.
In the 49ers’ last two games, Dallas and Cleveland both keyed on McCaffrey and were successful in slowing him down as he gained 94 yards on 30 carries.
Williams injured his right ankle around the same time as Samuel departed, with Jaylon Moore coming in for two snaps. Williams returned to the game and finished it but left in an orthopedic walking boot.
THIRD AND FOREVER
Offensive players were lamenting being “behind the sticks” too much of the evening, and the 49ers’ 3-for-12 performance on third down went a long way toward explaining Purdy’s struggles.
Instead of operating on third-and-medium or short, seven times the 49ers had a third-and-10 or worse, including a third-and-23, a third-and-13, a third-and-15 and a third-and-19. Overall, their average third-down play required 11 yards to get a first down.
The only conversions were a 2-yard run by Purdy on third-and-2, an 8-yard run by Ray-Ray McCloud on third-and-8 and a 9-yard completion to Jauan Jennings on third-and-2.
Check back for updates . . .