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SANTA CLARA – Luego de la victoria la semana pasada contra los New Orelans Saints, los San Francisco 49ers siguen perdiendo jugadores debido a lesiones.

El entrenador en jefe, Kyle Shanahan, informó el viernes que el tackle D.J. Jones se perderá el resto del año debido a una lesión de tobillo.

Jones ya jugaba con un tobillo lastimado y sufrió otro esguince en el otro tobillo contra los Saints, señaló Shanahan. Jugó lastimado, pero más pruebas descubrieron que era más serio de lo pensado.

“Eso fue lo más impresionante”, dijo Shanahan. “Por eso estábamos optimistas. Se lastimó al inicio del juego, quizá en la primera serie. Pero luego de que lo examinaron, era malo y quizá sea de ocho semanas”.

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Si bien Jones no recibe la misma aclamación que los otros tres linieros defensivos titulares de los Niners, ha sido parte integral del grupo, haciendo el trabajo sucio al enfrentarse a equipos dobles y rellenando la carrera.

Jones inició los 11 partidos en los que jugó, dejando 23 tacleadas y dos capturas. Previamente regresó de un esguince en su otro tobillo.

Jones se une al esquinero Richard Sherman (tendón de la corva), el ala defensiva Dee Ford (tendón de la corva), el esquinero K’Waun Williams (conmoción) y el centro Weston Richburg (tendón rotuliano) entre los que sufrieron lesiones contra New Orleans y se perderá al menos esta semana.

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El profundo fuerte Jaquiski Tartt (costillas) y el liniero defensivo Jullian Taylor (codo) también quedan fuera debido a lesiones previas.

Richburg está fuera de la temporada, mientras Sherman y Ford van semana a semana.

El lugar de Jones será ocupado por el liniero defensivo Kentavius Street, quien regresará de la reserva de lesionados el sábado.

Con Jones fuera, los Niners rotarán entre Street, Sheldon Day y Solomon Thomas para llenar el hueco, con Arik Armstead también capar de moverse por dentro.

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The 49ers made a concerted effort Saturday night to get defensive linemen DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa some rest.

The 49ers had seven defensive linemen active for the team’s 34-31 Week 16 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Each of them had plenty of opportunities to chase quarterback Jared Goff, who constantly was on the move.

The Rams’ offensive game plan called for multiple bootlegs and roll-outs for Goff, who had to run for his life when the clubs first met in October. Goff threw for just 78 yards and was sacked four times for minus-30 yards in the 49ers’ 20-7 victory in Week 6.

“Teams are going to game plan against us,” Buckner said. “Obviously, they didn’t want him to get hit. The first game we pretty much teed off on him. We made him frustrated.

“They needed to find ways to get him out of the pocket and try to make plays. The coaches did a really good job of adjusting and trying to get pressure in his face.”

The plan was mostly successful. Goff was not sacked. He completed 27 of 46 pass attempts for 323 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, which Fred Warner returned for a first-half touchdown.

A week earlier in the 49ers’ loss to the Falcons, Armstead, Buckner and Bosa each played 90 percent or more of the team’s defensive snaps. On Saturday, those three each played 51 of the team’s 70 snaps (73 percent).

Sheldon Day (45), Solomon Thomas (44), Jeremiah Valoaga (19) and Kentavius Street (19) also saw significant playing time.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers’ offense, defense in big win over Rams]

On offense, the 49ers appear to have settled on Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman as the team’s top two running backs. Matt Breida was healthy, but did not see the field on offense. He has not played since his fourth-quarter fumble last week against Atlanta.

The 49ers converted two third-and-16 plays on the final drive to pull out the victory on Robbie Gould’s 33-yard field goal as time expired. The victory improves the 49ers to 12-3 and sets up a winner-take-all game for the NFC West title against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17. If the 49ers win, they also will earn home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Here is a look at how much everyone on the 49ers played Saturday on offense, defense and special teams:

Offense
Total offensive snaps: 57
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 57
Running back – Raheem Mostert 31, Kyle Juszczyk 24, Tevin Coleman 24
Wide receiver – Emmanuel Sanders 56, Deebo Samuel 47, Kendrick Bourne 30, Richie James 8
Tight end – George Kittle 55, Levine Toilolo 8, Ross Dwelley 2
Offensive line – Daniel Brunskill 57, Mike McGlinchey 57, Laken Tomlinson 57, Ben Garland 57, Joe Staley 57
Did not play – QB Nick Mullens, WR Dante Pettis, OL Mike Person

Defense
Total defensive snaps: 70
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 51, Arik Armstead 51, Nick Bosa 51, Sheldon Day 45, Solomon Thomas 44, Jeremiah Valoaga 19, Kentavius Street 19
Linebacker – Fred Warner 70, Dre Greenlaw 70, Azeez Al-Shaair 28
Defensive back – Jimmie Ward 70, Marcell Harris 70, Ahkello Witherspoon 70, Richard Sherman 69, K’Waun Williams 42, Emmanuel Moseley 1

Special teams
Total special teams plays: 35
Elijah Lee 26, Mark Nzeocha 26, Donte Johnson 24, Tarvarius Moore 23, Moseley 22, James 18, Al-Shaair 18, Mitch Wishnowsky 17, Ward 15, Buckner 14, Armstead 14, Kyle Nelson 11, D.J. Reed 11, Toilolo 11, Dwelley 11, Harris 11, Mostert 10, Matt Breida 9, Antone Exum 9, Bourne 9, Day 9, Thomas 9, Justin Skule 6, Robbie Gould 6, Brunskill 6, McGlinchey 6, Tomlinson 6, Garland 6, Juszczyk 5, Staley 4, Warner 3, Greenlaw 3, Bosa 2, Williams 2, Coleman 1, Valoaga 1, Street 1

Not active
QB C.J. Beathard
S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
RB Jeff Wilson
TE Daniel Helm
DE Dee Ford (hamstring)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)
WR Jordan Matthews

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SANTA CLARA – Name it and Arik Armstead has already experienced most of what he’ll face Sunday night in Seattle. The crowd noise. The Marshawn Lynch runs. The Russell Wilson escapes.

Armstead is in his fifth and best season as a 49ers defensive lineman. This Sunday night’s visit, he’d like to experience his first win in Seattle, one that would give the 49ers (12-3) the NFC playoffs’ No. 1 seed and their first NFC West title since 2012.

“Seattle is loud and crazy and I love playing up there,” Armstead said. “It’s a big game, a hyped-up crowd and what you live for – to play in games like this.”

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 16: San Francisco 49ers’ Arik Armstead (91) uses his phone to calculate how much Isiah Stafford, 10, from Oakland, from the Fam 1st Family Foundation, had spent for the “Defensive Line Holiday Blitz” at the Shoe Palace in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. The 49ers and Visa provided a holiday shopping experience at the Shoe Palace, which included a Shoe Palace discount. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Armstead, a Pro Bowl snub and alternate, had 1 1/2 sacks the last time the 49ers played the Seahawks, a Nov. 11 overtime battle that Seattle won 27-24.

All due respect to the trumpeted return of Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, Armstead and the 49ers’ primary concern in this rematch is sacking, pressuring and simply defending Russell Wilson.

“Everybody knows the challenge he brings, from a mobility and passing standpoint,” Armstead said.

SANTA CLARA, CA – NOVEMBER 24: San Francisco 49ers’ Arik Armstead (91) gets up after sacking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the second quarter of their game at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
After racking up a career-high 10 sacks through November, Armstead is in the midst of a four-game drought, a stretch in which every game has come down to the final seconds.

Sacks never define a defender’s worth, and Armstead is a consistent factor, including against the run. He and rookie star Nick Bosa each have played 716 snaps (75 percent)

while DeForest Buckner leads linemen with 748; that trio was rotated out more in Saturday night’s win over the Los Angeles Rams, so look for a fresher line Sunday night.

Armstead is one of only three 49ers defenders who faced Lynch when he took his last snaps for Seattle in 2015. Armstead said of Lynch’s surprise encore: “Marshawn’s a great back and everyone is eager to see what he can do after his break. We’ll go in with the same mentality.”

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 21: San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner (54) intercepts the ball against Los Angeles Rams’ Malcolm Brown (34) in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
WARNER ON LYNCH

Linebacker Fred Warner echoed Armstead’s stance, saying the 49ers must stop the run and force Wilson into third-and-long situations. Lynch was on the Raiders’ injured reserve list by the time the 49ers got to play him last season, to which Warner called an “unfortunate” circumstance because “to be the best you want to beat the best.”

That prompted a reporter to ask Warner if he recalled Lynch’s “Beast Quake” touchdown run in the 2010 Seahawks’ playoff opener. Mind you, Warner was in eighth grade back then, but he respectfully responded: “Dude is a beast, to say the least.”

Warner, 23, is well aware the Seahawks could mix Lynch, 33, with Travis Homer or Robert Turbin to fill in after Sunday’s season-ending injuries to Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise. Said Warner: “We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared for whoever carries the rock, and that we’re assignment sound.”

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TOMLINSON ON SEATTLE

Left guard Laken Tomlinson is no stranger to Seattle’s deafening stadium. He played there as a 2015 Detroit Lions rookie, he made his 49ers starting debut there in 2017 and he remained winless in Seattle when the 49ers fell last year 43-16. CenturyLink Field was also the sight of Tomlinson’s only career playoff game, a 26-6 wild-card loss on the 2016 Lions.

“They have a reputation for being very loud, and that’s their home-field advantage,” Tomlinson said. “Our job is to eliminate that advantage and do what we do.”

Tomlinson is the only 49er on offense or defense to have played 100 percent of his unit’s snaps. When the 49ers fell to the Seahawks last month, offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey were out with leg injuries, and, although they’re primed for Sunday’s rematch, the line is still adjusting without center Weston Richburg.

Ben Garland will make his third straight start, and it’s unclear yet if Mike Person will return to right guard after a neck injury kept him out last game, prompting Daniel Brunskill’s first start there. “Communication is the key,” Tomlinson said. “Ben has been doing a phenomenal job of it and directing everyone.”

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HEALTH CENTER

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is battling a shoulder issue and would have been limited had the 49ers practiced Wednesday, according to the team’s injury report.
Defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) remains out while others limited are safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (knee), and Person (neck). Cornerback Tarvarius Moore (concussion) and defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) are cleared for full participation.

Seahawks who would have been out had there been a Wednesday practice: left tackle Duane Brown (knee, biceps), safety Quandre Diggs (ankle), center Joey Hunt (fibula), guard Mike Iupati (neck), and wide receiver Malik Turner (concussion).

Seahawks limited by injury are defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (core), cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring), and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring).

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TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 08: San Francisco 49ers Offensive Tackle Joe Staley (74) in pass protection during the first half of the season opener between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Bucs on September 08, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 08: San Francisco 49ers Offensive Tackle Joe Staley (74) in pass protection during the first half of the season opener between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Bucs on September 08, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Photo: Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
BRADENTON, Fla. — Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley didn’t look like himself the last time he played.

And there is a reason for that.

Actually, let’s make that reasons — his leg, his finger and his back.

In a Nov. 11 overtime loss to Seattle in which Jimmy Garoppolo was dropped for five sacks, Staley struggled in his first game since he suffered a broken fibula less than two months earlier. Staley made a hasty return and dealt with severe back pain, possibly because he was compensating for his leg, and then suffered a serious finger injury in the game and required surgery the next day.

That finger procedure forced him to miss the past three games, but Staley declared Wednesday he was “ready to go” for Sunday’s game at New Orleans. And he expects to look more like himself in his return.

He feels “a lot better,” Staley said. “The leg feels better and stronger. The back’s feeling good. The finger’s feeling better.”

It’s safe to say Staley’s 13th NFL season has been a pain.

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (74) blocks Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (90) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (74) blocks Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (90) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Photo: Tony Avelar / Associated Press
After playing in 124 of 128 games the previous eight seasons, Staley has played in just three games during the 49ers’ 10-2 start. Adding to his agony: Staley, 35, the team’s longest-tenured member, has been eager to experience this type of team success after enduring five straight non-winning seasons. Staley had just three winning seasons in the NFL before this season.

“It’s late in my career and I’ve kind of been waiting around for our team to be what it is right now,” Staley said. “And you just feel like you’re not a part of it.”

Added Staley: “It’s been hard, honestly. … It’s just one day at a time and you try to keep yourself mentally into it. And then coming back to the Seattle game, it was bad enough feeling the way I did and then having the setback with the finger and having to miss more games. It’s been hard.”

Staley’s return against the Seahawks was made even harder because he often lined up against Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the 49ers.

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And Staley’s latest return Sunday in New Orleans may not be any easier: The Saints are tied for fourth in the NFL in sacks (40) led by defensive ends Cameron Jordan (13.5, second in the NFL) and Marcus Davenport (six).

Jordan was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday after he had a career-best four sacks in a win against the Falcons on Thanksgiving.

Staley will likely line up more against Davenport, the 14th overall pick last year who has three sacks in the past two games for the NFL’s 10th-ranked defense.

“I’ve been really impressed with him on film,” Staley said. “He’s a powerful, long guy. Plays with incredible effort. So it’s a great challenge.”

Meanwhile, right tackle Mike McGlinchey will see plenty of Jordan, 30, a four-time Pro Bowler from Cal.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 11: Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 11: Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Photo: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images
Like Staley, McGlinchey also struggled in the loss to the Seahawks, which was his return after he missed four games due to arthroscopic knee surgery. However, he’s since rebounded and played his best games of the season the past two weeks, in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s estimation.

“I think these last two weeks I’ve been building on some good stuff,” McGlinchey said. “There’s still a lot of room to grow. … I feel like I’m back to the way I felt after training camp, and that’s exciting.”

Staley hopes to also round into form as the 49ers enter their final four games of a regular season that almost certainly will include a playoff berth.

On Wednesday, Staley was mostly serious as he discussed his difficult season, but he showed his humor remains intact when asked about the recent performances of McGlinchey, one of his best friends.

“Yeah, he’s played really well,” Staley said. “He’d probably be the first one to tell you.”

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Raheem Mostert was the offensive standout in the 49ers’ 20-17 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, totaling a career-high 19 carries and 146 yards, but none of that would have been possible without his supporting cast.

Both right tackle Mike McGlinchey and tight end George Kittle were key pieces in coach Kyle Shanahan’s blocking scheme that allowed Mostert the ability to get downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, the right tackle and tight end both had exceptional performances.

McGlinchey earned a career-best 88.9 overall grade, and an 88.4 grade in run blocking while not allowing a quarterback pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo. After shaking the rust off from sitting out four games due to a knee injury, McGlinchey has been steadily improving his game.

“I thought Mike had his best game of the year vs. Green Bay,” Shanahan said on a conference call with Bay Area media Monday. “And then I think he followed that up with his new best game yesterday. I know Mike has been battling through some injuries to get back. I know when he did get back, it takes some time to get back to your old self. But I saw that last week definitely, and I think he only got better this week.”

Kittle, who is known for his blocking ability did not disappoint in the Baltimore rain. He received a 72.9 overall grade from PFF, and a 78.1 run-blocking grade, which is his best of the season.

“That was probably as good as of a run-blocking game in terms of how much a tight end in outside zone can move the edge setters,” Shanahan said. “He dominated in that game.

“Our edges were as good as they have almost ever been and that’s why we were able to put a fast running back in there and just stay on track and just hit the numbers pretty hard. He was very impressive and so was McGlinchey on the edge too.”

One of the most unique traits about Kittle is his pure joy in being a key part of the run-blocking scheme. While the team didn’t do enough to walk away with a win, and Kittle only caught two of his four targets for 17 yards, he takes pride in his contributions that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

“I mean, losing is never fun,” Kittle said after the loss. “We play to win the game. I had a great time out there playing football, though. It was awesome. We ran the ball a lot. I had a lot of good blocks with the tackles and ‘Juice’ [Kyle Juszczyk]. Our run game looked good. Unfortunately, we just didn’t do enough to get it done.”

[RELATED: Sherman, Tartt listed as day-to-day for 49ers vs. Saints]

Most of the game Kittle faced off with Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon (6-foot-3, 261 pounds) who is pretty comparable in size to the tight end. Kittle, who weighs a little less at 250 pounds, relished the competition on the edge.

“You kidding?” Kittle said. “That’s how I grade my game — off the run game. I thought I played pretty well today. I had great battles with 99 all day. He’s a great player. So, that was fun. That was really fun. I’m just looking forward to hopefully getting another opportunity again.”

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The 49ers’ worst fears came true Monday, when coach Kyle Shanahan announced that center Weston Richburg will miss the remainder of the season with a torn patellar tendon.

Richburg was carted off the field Sunday in New Orleans during the third quarter of the 49ers’ 48-46 win over the Saints. Richburg’s right leg got caught on guard Mike Person’s left leg. That caused the center’s leg to awkwardly bend as he went to the ground.

Backup Ben Garland will step in immediately as the starter in Richburg’s place. Person and Daniel Brunskill also have experience playing center.

Shanahan and the coaching staff already have dealt with multiple injuries to the offensive line when tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey missed time. While Garland has big shoes to fill taking over for Richburg, Shanahan was impressed with what he saw from the back up in New Orleans.

“He did a hell of a job when he came in,” Shanahan said. “Replacing Richburg is a huge job. He’s played very well for us this year and Ben came in and we were able to not miss a beat. He stepped it up, knew the gameplan well. Blocked those guys even when they were the head up nose. When he was uncovered he got through to the second level. He had a number of plays in the game that helped us.”

Richburg was one of the 49ers’ biggest free-agent signings of the 2018 offseason when they gave him a five-year, $47.5 million contract. He had a challenging first season, though, as he played through a quadriceps injury he sustained in Week 4.

Richburg had surgery to reattach the tendon to his kneecap as soon as the season was over in January, and since his return, he has played his best football since joining the 49ers. The six-year pro has been a lead blocker on several explosive plays this season, including on wide receiver Richie James’ 57-yard catch-and-run against the Cardinals in Week 11.

Shanahan believes that it will be another challenging rehab for Richburg during the offseason, but added that it definitely is an injury that a player can come back from. His leadership on the offensive line will be missed, as well as what he has brought to the game since his return.

[RELATED: 49ers’ Sherman out a couple weeks with strained hamstring]

“I thought Richburg played really well,” Shanahan said. “He played like the guy that we hoped for when he got here. And I think he did that last year in some games but not consistently throughout the year — but his injury had a lot to do with that. I know it was a hard offseason for him.

“He didn’t get cleared until the Tampa Bay game, so there was a lot of anxiety with him going through that, whether to do it or not and I really think it paid off because it helped him a ton this year. He was able to stay healthy throughout the year until this point … happened on a different leg, so it was very unfortunate what happened.

“We were very appreciative of him this year.”

49ers center Weston Richburg out for season with torn patellar tendon originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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With the lack of draft picks in 2020 and the need to extend George Kittle and DeForest Buckner, the way the 49ers approach free agency is going to be key to their continued success. I won’t go into who is scheduled to become a RFA or ERFA, but here’s the full list of the 49ers’ 2020 Unrestricted Free Agents: Emmanuel Sanders, Jimmie Ward, Jason Verrett, Garrett Celek, Arik Armstead, Shon Coleman, Ben Garland, Levine Toilolo, Damontre Moore, Antone Exum, Jordan Matthews, Dontae Johnson, Sheldon Day, and Ronald Blair III.

Of those players, I think they need to keep Armstead, Sanders, and Blair. Ward has had a great season and would be great to keep, but sacrifices need to be made to keep Armstead around and the 49ers need to give Tarvarius Moore a good look so that they know what they have in him. Coleman, Garland, and D. Moore are also worth keeping because you can never have enough offensive line/pass rush depth and they should be fairly cheap. The only other significant name I can think of is Celek. He’s done some good things for this team, but with his injuries and Ross Dwelley stepping up, I think it’s time to move on. Who do you want the 49ers to keep around? Are there any other free agents that you want the 49ers to bring in?

On to those links…

A bear in his natural [email protected] made his Mic’d Up debut in Week 15.

Back at home this Saturday vs the Rams on @nflnetwork! pic.twitter.com/1VVL7WDOed

— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 18, 2019
49ers can’t get Nick Bosa off field after early durability concerns (Matt Maiocco, NBC Sports)

49ers’ Richard Sherman to return after 1 game out for hamstring injury (Nick Wagoner, ESPN)

Source: 49ers’ Dee Ford not expected to return during regular season (Dalton Johnson, NBC Sports)

Five Key Matchups: 49ers vs. Rams in the Levi’s® Stadium Regular Season Finale (Matthew Asher, 49ers.com)

Jimmy Garoppolo’s improved ball security good sign for playoff-bound 49ers (Nick Wagoner, ESPN)

How ‘GMFB’ crew believes 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo stacks up to playoff QBs (Chelena Goldman, NBC Sports)

Kyle Shanahan’s former QB Matt Ryan explains what makes coach special (Chelena Goldman, NBC Sports)

City of Santa Clara to 49ers: ‘Terrible off the field’ (Amber Lee, KTVU.com)

49ers have NFL Defensive Rookie, Executive of the Year per GM survey (Brian Witt, NBC Sports)

NFC playoff race: 49ers, Seahawks strong No. 1 seed contenders (Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com)

Around the league…

NFL execs pick awards: Who’s MVP? DPOY? Coach of the Year? (Tom Pelissero, NFL.com)

Jaguars fire Tom Coughlin as VP of football operations (Grant Gordon, NFL.com)

Pete Prisco’s NFL Week 16 picks: Eagles beat Cowboys to take NFC East lead, Titans upset Saints (Pete Prisco, CBS Sports)

NFL helmets go high-tech amid concussion concerns (Frank Miles, Fox News)

RB Index, Week 16: Four prime candidates for offseason trades (Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL.com)

2020 NFL Mock Draft: Bills add needed size at wide receiver, two quarterbacks go in the top three (Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports)

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Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne have earned the trust of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff.

“We feel those three guys have earned the right to be out there more than the rest,” Shanahan said Monday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “We feel they have been the most consistent and started playing the best here over the last month or so.”

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ other wide receivers have not shown the kind of reliability to earn significant roles on game days, as became evident in the 49ers’ 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

“Our three guys have really started to separate themselves a little bit from the group,” Shanahan said.

Sanders and Samuel were on the field for nearly every snap. Sanders took just one play off, while Samuel was on the sideline for just two of the 49ers’ 57 offensive plays. The team’s third receiver, Bourne, played 25 snaps.

Shanahan said he would like the other receivers to earn more playing time just so he can give Sanders and Samuel some rest.

“I don’t like how much they went,” Shanahan said. “I think we do have to rotate a little bit more and keep those guys fresh.”

Richie James saw action on just two plays, and veteran Marquise Goodwin never stepped on the field for an offensive snap. James’ biggest contribution came on a block to help Raheem Mostert score on a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Dante Pettis was inactive for the game due to a knee injury. But even before he got injured last week in practice, Pettis had fallen down the depth chart. He had just two receptions for 26 yards in his previous six games. Pettis is likely to miss at least another game with the injury.

[RELATED: Sherman’s status for 49ers vs. Saints unclear with knee injury]

Here is a look at how much everyone on the 49ers played Sunday on offense, defense and special teams:

Offense
Total offensive snaps: 57
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 57
Running back – Raheem Mostert 42, Kyle Juszczyk 26, Tevin Coleman 10, Jeff Wilson 5
Wide receiver – Emmanuel Sanders 56, Deebo Samuel 55, Kendrick Bourne 25, Richie James 2
Tight end – George Kittle 57, Garrett Celek 6, Ross Dwelley 1
Offensive line – Laken Tomlinson 57, Mike Person 57, Mike McGlinchey 57, Weston Richburg 57, Daniel Brunskill 57
Did not play – QB Nick Mullens, OL Ben Garland

Defense
Total defensive snaps: 65
Defensive line – Arik Armstead 61, Nick Bosa 55, DeForest Buckner 54, D.J. Jones 33, Jullian Taylor 24, Solomon Thomas 18, Sheldon Day 17, Jeremiah Valoaga 4
Linebacker – Fred Warner 65, Dre Greenlaw 64, Azeez Al-Shaair 39, Mark Nzeocha 1
Defensive back – Jimmie Ward 65, Ahkello Witherspoon 64, Richard Sherman 63, Jaquiski Tartt 38, Marcell Harris 28, K’Waun Williams 21, Emmanuel Moseley 1

Special teams
Total special teams plays: 20
Tarvarius Moore 16, Elijah Lee 16, Moseley 16, Nzeocha 16, Al-Shaair 14, Harris 12, Mitch Wishnowsky 10, James 10, Celek 8, Ward 8, Armstead 8, Buckner 8, Bourne 7, Dwelley 7, Jones 7, D.J. Reed 6, Kyle Nelson 6, Mostert 6, Justin Skule 4, Robbie Gould 4, Person 4, McGlinchey 4, Tomlinson 4, Richburg 4, Thomas 4, Tartt 3, Juszczyk 2, Wilson 2, Greenlaw 2, Marquise Goodwin 1, Day 1

Not active
QB C.J. Beathard
K Chase McLaughlin
WR Dante Pettis
RB Matt Breida
DE Dee Ford
LT Joe Staley
TE Levine Toilolo

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Custom Emmanuel Sanders Jersey Large

Against the Saints, a Robbie Gould field goal that won the game, but it was George Kittle’s incredible catch and run that proved to be the deciding play.

Two weeks later vs. the Rams on Saturday night it was again Gould who pushed the 49ers past their opponent on the game’s final play, and again it was set up by an incredible play from the San Francisco offense.

After converting an improbable third and 16 just three plays prior, the 49ers did it a second time, on a 46-yard bomb from Jimmy Garoppolo to Emmanuel Sanders with 42 seconds left. The Rams appeared to have a coverage breakdown, with Jalen Ramsey letting Sanders run free expecting safety help from Taylor Rapp.

The 49ers are now 12-3 heading into their final game vs. the Seahawks in Seattle next Sunday. The winner will take the NFC West and will be the favorites to grab the first overall playoff seed.

The San Francisco 49ers are hoping to exit Week 17 as the NFC West champions and with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That would mean a first-round bye and some much-needed rest for the 49ers, who have not had an extended break since their bye in Week 4.

One player who is probably looking forward to some rest more than others is wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. That’s because Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks will be his 17th this season.

The Denver Broncos had not yet had their bye week before trading Sanders to the 49ers on October 22. San Francisco had already had its bye week.

Sanders has racked up 477 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 33 receptions through nine games with the 49ers this season. He has 844 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 63 receptions through his 16 combined games between the 49ers and Broncos this season.

Sanders had a quiet game during the Week 15 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He caught just two balls for nine yards. He did, however, haul in what could be considered the pass of the night on Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams — a 46-yarder from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to get the 49ers in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

Sanders was asked after the game about the bounce-back performance.

“I don’t care about a bounce back story,” Sanders responded. “I just care about a winning story. Right now, we came off of a great win. Obviously, we lost versus Atlanta, which left a sorry taste in our mouth, so it felt good to get back on track, to get a win. But, at the end of the day, we have Seattle coming up. We have to go out there and handle business.”

Maybe anyone hoping to expand the NFL season to 17 games should speak with Sanders after this season to find out what he thinks.

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison played in 17 games last season following a trade from the New York Giants to the Detroit Lions.

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Custom Dante Pettis Jersey Large

Despite his quiet start to 2019, San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis is primed to break out soon. There’s a strong chance it happens right after the Niners’ bye week.
The San Francisco 49ers are having a dream start to the year: 3-0 with a much-needed break due to injuries. However, there’s one guy who may have benefited from playing this week.

Wide receiver Dante Pettis scored the game-winning touchdown in last weeks 24-20 comeback victory. It was his first of the year and the sixth of his young career.

The 2018 second-round draft pick hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations — at least not yet. A knee injury last year ended what looked to be a promising rookie campaign. He caught 27 passes with five of those being touchdowns, and hee also racked up 467 receiving yards.

You can check out his stats thus far here on ESPN.

Pettis will get a decent opportunity to put up big numbers after San Francisco’s early-season break, as he and the rest of the stout 49ers offense will be facing a Cleveland Browns defense that can be attacked through the air. Week 5 should provide quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with an excellent chance to spread the wealth among his receiving corps, including the second-year wideout.

After last week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pettis received a lot of positive feedback from Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan:

Peter Panacy
@PeterPanacy
Dante Pettis earned some cred from Jimmy Garoppolo. #49ers #PITvsSF #49wz

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Peter Panacy
@PeterPanacy
Kyle Shanahan says Dante Pettis “earner it” today after a rough training camp. Had great practices leading up to Week 3. #49ers #PITvsSF #49wz

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Pettis has a lot of speed, as well as quickness. On his touchdown play against the Steelers, he showed he can turn on a dime and has a great football IQ.

As you can see in the video below, Pettis comes off the line with a sense of purpose. He faces tight coverage, but steps toward the ball to snag it away for the score. Imagine if he wasn’t aggressive in this situation; The outcome would have been different, that’s for sure:

San Francisco 49ers

@49ers
Dimes to Dante! @JimmyG_10 connects with @dmainy_13 at the goal line! #49ers up 24-20.

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Pettis has a great opportunity to be the No. 1 receiver on this team for the remainder of the 2019 season. However, there are a few other players looking to be offensive stars. Niner Noise’s Matt Stephenson breaks down who else is striving to be ‘the guy” in the following article:

Second-round draft picks are often expected to perform like first-rounders. Pettis has shown flashes of brilliance, but there needs to be more consistency to his game. With more action and time on the field, allowing his quarterback to develop needed chemistry, he has all the skills to make a huge impact next week.

Pettis needs to show Shanahan and Garoppolo he can be trusted in any situation at any time. Last week’s game certainly helped his case.

One of the many questions is whether he has a break out game against Cleveland. And if he does, will he be able to keep it up the following week when the 49ers travel to take on the Los Angeles Rams?

The Rams’ defense gives up less than 200 yards passing per game and has a pretty solid secondary; They didn’t make it to the Super Bowl last season just because of their quarterback.

NEXT: 49ers’ plans for Tevin Coleman’s return
It will be interesting to see how this situation shapes up. Pettis needs to keep improving week-by-week. If he can display his talents on a Monday Night Football broadcast, there is certainly reason to believe this kid is for real.