By C.J. Peterson
Special to S.F. Examiner
SANTA CLARA — Over the first two games of the season, the San Francisco 49ers have struggled to stretch the field.
That job was supposed to belong to Marquise Goodwin, but the sixth-year receiver went down midway through San Francisco’s season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Without him, rookie Dante Pettis and the rest of the 49ers receiving corps couldn’t solve the Detroit Lions’ man coverage in an all-too-close home win this past weekend.
While Goodwin’s status is still up in the air for Sunday’s road game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the former Olympic long jumper was back at practice on Wednesday.
“It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t be out there last week,” Goodwin said. “I was trying to coach as best as I could from the sidelines and help in another way. I wish that could play every game in full health.”
The 49ers have been without Goodwin since Week 1, when he came out midway through the opener after he suffered what San Francisco’s medical staff diagnosed as a quad contusion and bone bruise.
Goodwin lobbied to make a return to the field throughout last week, but to no avail.
“[The quad] wasn’t firing like it needed to be,” Goodwin said. “It’s the nature of this game. We go through a lot of stuff and a lot of things throughout the season but you have to roll with the punches.”
Without Goodwin, the the 49ers passing game has been excruciatingly ineffective. San Francisco ranks as the No. 24 team in the NFL in passing offense with only 233.5 yards per game.
Against the Lions, San Francisco was only able to accumulate 156 net yards of passing offense.
According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, much of the problem stemmed from the receiver’s inability to create space.
“[The Lions] played a lot of man coverage,” Shanahan said.” I don’t think we did a good job beating it and attacking it and getting the results.”
With Goodwin on the field, however, that problem would be solved. The 2012 Olympian has explosive speed, turning one-on-one coverage into an advantage instead of a hinderance.
Garoppolo said on Wednesday that the Texas product provides “a unique speed” that will be welcomed back.
In Garoppolo’s case, he’ll need that option to take the top off of a defense after taking six sacks while waiting for his wideouts to get open down field.
The 49ers will be seeing another speedster in Week 3 in the form of Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill, one of the fastest players in the NFL, along with Goodwin.
“He’s unbelievably fast,” Goodwin said. “I’m excited to see him play.”
When asked who was faster, however, Goodwin pulled up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of the Olympic rings on his left forearm.
“I didn’t say nothing,” Goodwin said. “You can take that however you wanna take it.”
Going up against Hill and the rest of the Kansas City offense, the 49ers will need as much help as they can get offensively.
After two weeks of play, the Chiefs boasts the sixth best offense in the NFL with 811 yards from scrimmage, including 289 passing yards per game.
On top of that, starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown a record-setting 10 touchdown passes in his first two starts as a pro.
– Along with Goodwin, the 49ers welcomed back inside linebacker Reuben Foster, who served a two-game suspension to begin the season.
While the 49ers have yet to make a decision as to who will start at linebacker against Kansas City, Shanahan says they will explore all options.
“I’d like to see Malcolm [Smith], too,” Shanahan said. “If I knew what way we were going to go this week, I wouldn’t tell you guys, but I do mean I don’t know yet.”
– Starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle) was limited at practice Wednesday according to the 49ers.
Witherspoon had a rough go against the Lions, giving up a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Backup defensive back Jimmie Ward stepped in late in that game, so it’s likely that he would be the man to start in the event that Witherspoon is not ready.