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San Francisco 49ers to be without WR Deebo Samuel, RB Jeff Wilson Jr. for multiple weeks



SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Just as the San Francisco 49ers‘ offense seemed to be rounding into form over the past two weeks, that group has lost two more key contributors to injury.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Jeff Wilson Jr., both of whom played major roles in Sunday’s 33-6 win against the New England Patriots, are expected to miss extended time, according to coach Kyle Shanahan.

Samuel is dealing with a left hamstring strain and will “most likely” miss this week’s game at the Seattle Seahawks and next week’s home contest against the Green Bay Packers, according to Shanahan.

It’s a big blow for an offense that had leaned heavily on Samuel since he returned from a Jones fracture in his foot in Week 4. Samuel had five catches for 65 yards against the Patriots before he departed.

“Deebo is a huge part of our offense, a huge part of our team,” Shanahan said. “When you have a threat of someone who can hurt you whether it’s blocking, whether it’s catching, whether it’s running, that always is an issue for defenses.”

Wilson is the latest 49er to suffer a high left ankle sprain and is expected to go on injured reserve this week, which means he will have to miss at least the next three games. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, linebacker Kwon Alexander and running back Raheem Mostert have dealt with or are currently dealing with high ankle sprains.

Wilson was in the midst of the best game of his career when his ankle got rolled up on at the end of his third touchdown run. He finished with 112 yards on 17 attempts with those three scores before departing.

“He was unbelievable,” Shanahan said. “I was very happy for him and how hard he played. It was extremely unfortunate he got hurt. I know he’s really disappointed in that because of how good he’s been playing. But at least he’ll be able to come back. It’ll be a month most likely but he’ll be back from it.”

With Wilson set to join Mostert on injured reserve, the Niners are down to Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty as the only healthy backs on the roster. Tevin Coleman, who has been on injured reserve with a sprained knee, is eligible to return, though it remains to be seen if he’ll be healthy enough to do so this week.

“I hope so,” Shanahan said. “I’m not sure yet, though. I’ll be surprised if gets out there fully for Wednesday but I think that will be a late, end of the week decision.”

In addition to Samuel and Wilson, wide receiver Richie James Jr. also sustained a sprained ankle against the Patriots. He will be day-to-day this week.

The 49ers made a pair of roster tweaks Monday, releasing defensive back Parnell Motley and defensive lineman Alex Barrett. Those moves leave the team with 50 players on the active roster. One of the three open spots will go to edge rusher Jordan Willis when his trade from the New York Jets becomes official.

How the Niners fill those other two spots will depend on a combination of how the injuries to Samuel, Wilson and James play out as well as the status of players eligible to return from injured reserve such as cornerback K’Waun Williams (knee, hip) and Coleman.

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DK Metcalf posts career high in receiving yards as Seattle Seahawks soar in Philadelphia



There’s something about Russell Wilson playing in primetime.

And there’s something about DK Metcalf playing in Philadelphia.

The Wilson-to-Metcalf combination — plus another strong performance from the Seattle Seahawks‘ resurgent defense — was enough for a 23-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Metcalf caught 10 passes for a career-high 177 yards while doing most of his damage against All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay. That topped his 160-yard performance at the same stadium in January, when he set an NFL rookie postseason record in Seattle’s wild-card win over the Eagles.

Monday night’s victory gives Seattle (8-3) a one-game lead in the NFC West over the Los Angeles Rams, and it gives the Seahawks seven straight wins over Philadelphia (including playoffs) dating back to 2011.

It also continues Wilson’s dominance under the lights. He’s now 29-8-1 in primetime games (defined as starting at 7 p.m. ET or later) for a .776 winning percentage. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that’s the best by any starting quarterback since 1950 with at least 20 starts. Steve Young (.767, 23-7) is second.

Wilson improved to 10-2 on Monday Night Football for an .833 winning percentage that is also first in MNF history.

Wilson completed 22 of 31 attempts for 230 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. It was his second-straight game without an interception or lost fumble after the worst turnover funk of his career.

The Seahawks’ defense that was getting gashed at a historic rate over the first half of the season turned in its second straight strong performance. It forced three-and-outs on the Eagles’ first five possessions, sacked Carson Wentz six times and held Philadelphia to nine points until a late Hail Mary.

Metcalf sealed Seattle’s win by recovering the ensuing onside kick.

He topped 1,000 yards for the season Monday night and became the faster in Seahawks history (11th game) to hit that milestone.

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Despite struggles, benching Jared Goff ‘was never part of the consideration,’ Sean McVay says



Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay acknowledged Monday that his willingness to call out Jared Goff after a 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was a departure from his routine postgame comments, but McVay expressed confidence that his fifth-year quarterback can take it.

“I wouldn’t say things if I didn’t know there was broad shoulders to be able to handle it,” McVay said, adding, “maybe while it was a little bit different approach, I think it was something that was honest that I know he’s capable of correcting.

“If anything, I think it’s a reflection of the confidence I have because I can be demanding of him in some of those settings whether it be publicly or privately with our team.”

After Sunday’s loss to the injury-plagued Niners, McVay did not shoulder the blame — a typical move for the fourth-year coach — but instead said bluntly, “Our quarterback has got to take better care of the football.”

Goff had two passes intercepted and lost a fumble against the Niners, who have defeated the Rams in four straight games and also handed them their first loss at SoFi Stadium.

It was also the second time in the last four games that Goff has produced multiple turnovers in a loss. In Week 8, Goff had four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles – in a 28-17 loss to the Dolphins.

McVay says he did not consider benching Goff, who has four seasons remaining on an extension that guarantees $110 million, in either turnover-riddled loss.

“If I thought it was going to be the best thing to just take a deep breath and step away, then I’d say maybe, but not in either of those situations because both of those reflected kind of having an opportunity where there was enough plays made to get back in it,” McVay said. “So yesterday that was never part of the consideration, nor was it really for Miami.”

The Rams are 7-4 and remain in the hunt to win the NFC West as they prepare to play the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

This season, Goff has completed 67.2 percent of his passes (Ranks 15th) and has passed for 16 touchdowns (17th). Goff also has lost 14 turnovers — 10 interceptions and four fumbles — which ties him with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins for the second-most turnovers in the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has lost 18 turnovers, the most in the league.

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Scrapped game plans and late-night meetings: How the Broncos tried to get QB Kendall Hinton ready in 24 hours – Denver Broncos Blog



DENVER — What Kendall Hinton and the Denver Broncos tried to do Sunday is unprecedented in the game’s modern era.

A day after Hinton walked onto the field as a practice squad wide receiver, he was taking snaps behind center during a game against the New Orleans Saints. With the coronavirus tearing through the team’s quarterbacks room, the Broncos ripped apart a game plan they had spent a week creating. They constructed a new one for a player who hadn’t taken a snap at quarterback since his junior year of college, then tried to have a meeting or two and a walk-through before playing the top seed in the NFC.

Hinton earned plenty of praise and a pile respect from his teammates for what he tried to do Sunday, but it was a nearly impossible task. The result was a 31-3 loss to the Saints with Hinton completing just 1 of 9 passes for 13 yards.

“He did everything he could,” said Broncos coach Vic Fangio. “… We had about a two-, three-, four-hour window there to get him ready, which isn’t a lot obviously … that’s a big, big ask and it just didn’t work out.”

The Broncos, now 4-7, found themselves in this tightest of spots when quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles, who is on the practice squad, were removed from Saturday’s practice and told to isolate after being designated as “high-risk” close contacts to quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday.

“I’ve never been a part of anything like this,” said running back Royce Freeman. “This takes it all.”

The NFL eventually said, after working through all of the contact tracing information, the three quarterbacks could not play because they had not followed the protocol for masks or social distancing in a Tuesday quarterbacks meeting that included Driskel. But the Broncos did not get that news until Saturday after they had started practice — the three quarterbacks were initially on the field and participated in part of the workout.

“I definitely think they understand the situation they put us in for not following the protocols,” said Broncos safety Kareem Jackson of the quarterbacks. “… Those guys are definitely regretful … they’re probably in the dumps more than we are having to play the game.”

The Broncos asked the NFL to move the game to Monday or another day so the quarterbacks — who have all tested negative this week, including Saturday’s test — could be in uniform. That request was denied. The team then asked if the team’s offensive quality control coaches — former quarterbacks Rob Calabrese and Justin Rascati — could be signed to the roster for Sunday’s game. Calabrese last played quarterback at Central Florida in 2012, while Rascati played for two seasons in the Arena Football League following his senior year at James Madison in 2006. Those requests were denied.

That left the Broncos with Hinton, who played quarterback during three of his four seasons at Wake Forest, and a bevy of running backs who could take direct snaps in a “Wildcat” look.

“Well those were the options, you saw them, Wildcat every play, [and] Kendall has some experience playing quarterback in college so that’s about what our choices were,” Fangio said. “… It was hectic as you can imagine.”

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur trimmed the game plan to about “20 or 30 plays,” according to Hinton. They then brought Hinton and some of the other players back to the team’s facility Saturday night to try and put them through some of the paces of that limited docket of plays.

“Going into the facility [Saturday] night … after that going back to the room studying,” Hinton said. “And the matter of falling asleep, the nerves were going to keep me up or the studying.”

The Saints knew necessity would make the Broncos run-heavy right from the first snap and they were ready. The league’s No. 2 run defense coming into the game watched the Broncos run the ball on 33 of their 44 snaps against a crowded line of scrimmage. Twenty-two of the Broncos’ carries went for 3 or fewer yards. As the game wore on, the Broncos leaned on the running backs more and Hinton less as he attempted just two passes in the second half, none after his second interception of the game with 10:04 left in the third quarter.

“It’s not how it planned out in my dreams, [but] just getting this opportunity, this experience, has been amazing,” said Hinton, who was in a sales job earlier this month. “… It’s an experience like none other. … Absolutely I expected to play better. … I honestly don’t think I played to the best of my ability, but a day or two of practice would have definitely helped. I definitely think I could have done more things out there.”

In the end it was the lowest output on offense — 112 yards — since a 1992 loss to Washington and the fewest passing yards in a game for the Broncos since 1967.

“Our guys kind of accepted the challenge,” Fangio said. “… Obviously the result was not pleasing, for our quarterbacks to put us in this position was disappointing, I’m disappointed I didn’t do a good enough job on selling them on the importance of the protocols.”

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