For the final week of the 2018 regular season, the San Francisco 49ers will be without a pair of offensive playmakers.
Running back Matt Breida and wide receiver Dante Pettis have both been ruled out for San Francisco’s Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams after sustaining lower body injuries on Sunday.
“Breida [has an] ankle sprain, he’ll be out this week,” Shanahan said on Monday afternoon via conference call. “Pettis, [has an] MCL sprain, he’ll be out this week as well.”
While Sunday’s 14-9 loss to the playoff-bound Chicago Bears was undoubtedly a gut shot for a 49ers team that was surprisingly competitive, losing a pair of budding offensive stars to close the season may be worse.
Since stepping into the starting role in place of Jerick McKinnon — who ruptured his ACL during the last practice of the preseason — Breida has become a featured player in Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
“I think he was up there for a while close to leading the league in rushing,” Shanahan said. “Got a ton of explosives [plays]. Had a good yards per carry.”
Unfortunately for Breida, however, ankle injuries plagued him during the middle portion of his season. After initially hurting the ankle in San Francisco’s Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Breida was unable to get back to 100 percent.
Despite this, Breida was still able to lead the 49ers in rushing this year with 814 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry — fourth-best in the NFL through Week 16.
“He’s battled every week to get in there and play for us,” Shanahan said. “He’s ended up hurting it every week, also. So, it’s lingered all year. Just a credit to him to still be effective when he’s been out there and been able to help us throughout this year has been unbelievable.”
The only game that Breida missed this season was Week 13 against the Denver Broncos. In that game, a 20-14 win, the 49ers opted to start rookie running back Jeff Wilson, who racked up 90 yards on 23 carries.
On Sunday, Breida was forced to leave in the second quarter after re-rolling the ankle. He did not return, although he did watch the remainder of the game from San Francisco’s sideline.
While Breida had solidified things on the ground for San Francisco, Dante Pettis validated the second round draft pick Shanahan and general manager John Lynch spent to get him in the 2018 draft.
“Dante’s had success everywhere he’s been before,” Shanahan said. “Dante is a hard worker. He does everything you ask. But, I think it took him some time to realize how hard you have to go on every single route … I think he gradually did that as the year went.”
In Pettis’ case, a sprained knee would keep him out of the fray for three games between Weeks 4 and 8. In the back half of the year, however, the Washington product had three games with at least 77 receiving yards.
The highlight of Pettis’ season came in Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks, when the 23-year-old hauled in seven receptions for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On Sunday, during the second quarter, Pettis was sandwiched in between two Bears defenders, bending his 6-foot-1 frame awkwardly. While he was nearly called for a fumble in the chaos of the play, the larger concern was his knee.
After being helped off of the field, Pettis did not return to the game and was later diagnosed with an MCL sprain.
According to Shanahan, neither Pettis or Breida’s injuries will require surgery to repair. This was particularly a worry for Pettis, as his injury was initially speculated to be an ACL.
In addition to Pettis and Breida, Shanahan also noted that tight end Garrett Celek is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has a calf contusion and will be evaluated on Wednesday.