Elijah Mitchell injury update: How long is the 49ers RB expected to be out?

After suffering a Week 1 knee injury, how long is Elijah Mitchell going to be out, and how will the 49ers compensate for his loss in the meantime?

San Francisco 49ers starting running back Elijah Mitchell saw his run of bad injury luck carry over from 2021, as the second-year back suffered a knee injury during the team’s opening day matchup against the Chicago Bears. On a rain-soaked afternoon at Soldier Field, Mitchell went down with a sprained MCL that is expected to sideline him for a significant period of time. Just how long is Mitchell going to be out, and how will the 49ers compensate for his loss in the meantime?

How many games will Elijah Mitchell miss?

Sprained MCLs generally don’t constitute season-ending injuries for NFL players, especially when they occur early in the season. Though the timeline could change if Mitchell progresses quickly or suffers any setbacks, it’s likely he misses roughly eight games.

“We’re estimating about two months, eight weeks, give or take a few,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan explained. “So, hopefully, it goes well and it’s earlier but you never know with those things, so that’s what we’re guessing.”

Mitchell’s injury history has become a pain point for the 49ers. Over the course of his rookie season, he dealt with a combination of ailments to his shoulder, ribs, finger, and knee. He also suffered from concussion symptoms late in the year. Ahead of Week 1, Mitchell missed practice with a hamstring injury.

The 49ers placed Mitchell on injured reserve on September 13.

Who will take over for Mitchell in the San Francisco backfield?

Veteran running back Jeff Wilson Jr. is expected to start in Mitchell’s place. That said, rookie running backs Jordan Mason and Tyrion Davis-Price should be involved as well. Mason, an undrafted free agent signee out of Georgia Tech, impressed mightily in the offseason. He was such a revelation that he forced his way onto the 53-man roster at the expense of 2021 third-round pick Trey Sermon, who San Francisco released before Week 1.

Mason also got the nod over Davis-Price, a 2022 third-round pick, to be active on game day against the Bears. Davis-Price was a healthy scratch, while Mason backed up Mitchell and Wilson in addition to seeing special teams snaps. Mason and Davis-Price will likely both get a chance to make an impact behind Wilson when the veteran needs a breather.

To bolster the team’s depth behind incumbents Wilson, Mason, and Davis-Price, the 49ers signed veteran Marlon Mack to the team’s practice squad. Mack was not elevated for the team’s Week 2 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, but he could be called upon later in the season once he gets acclimated to the system.

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