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To make a playoff push, San Francisco 49ers need highest-paid players to perform – San Francisco 49ers Blog

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — For the San Francisco 49ers to snap their four-game losing streak and beat the Chicago Bears last week, they needed contributions from just about everybody.

But it was no coincidence that in the 33-22 win, some of San Francisco’s biggest names and highest-paid players shined brightest. Left tackle Trent Williams was his usual, dominant self. Receiver Deebo Samuel continued his emergence as one of the game’s best wideouts. Defensive end Nick Bosa finished with two sacks and stayed on his All-Pro trajectory. Even quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo delivered his best showing of the season.

It was exactly the type of performance the 49ers needed from their most important players. It was also a tiny glimpse into what the Niners will need more of to be in playoff contention. At 3-4, the 49ers’ top players will have to stay on the field and produce more consistently.

For the most part this season, that hasn’t happened and that’s a concerning issue for a team that has become increasingly top heavy over the past few years. Although the 49ers sacrificed defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to salary cap constraints, they handed out top-of-market deals to Garoppolo, Williams, tight end George Kittle, kicker Robbie Gould, linebacker Fred Warner and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Defensive linemen Arik Armstead and Dee Ford and free safety Jimmie Ward also received sizable deals.

The upshot of those moves is the 49ers have premium players at multiple spots but the so-called “middle class” of the roster has thinned considerably and left a mix of players on rookie deals and veterans on shorter “prove it” type contracts to complement the stars.

“You always want your star players to play like ‘A’ players every week,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And then everyone else, you need to play as good as they can, but your star players you need to play like star players every week.”

Among the five 49ers with the highest salary-cap numbers this season, only Bosa and Williams have consistently played up to expectations. Samuel is an emerging star who looks the part of a bargain but is playing his way into a large contract of his own.

But some of the other players the Niners expect to lead the way have been inconsistent, injured or a combination of the two.

Garoppolo bears the brunt of that criticism, which is to be expected because of his position but also because of his $26.4 million cap hit. He’s missed a game and a half because of a calf injury. When he’s been on the field, he’s been good at times (against Detroit and Chicago and in the final quarter against Green Bay) but has struggled to string those moments together.

Armstead and Ford count a combined $21.36 million against the cap. While Armstead has been his usual, solid self against the run and still is a strong pass-rusher when he plays inside, he has 18 tackles and one sack with a pressure percentage of 6.9, which is tied for 92nd in the NFL.

Although any production from Ford should be viewed as a win given his recent injury issues, he doesn’t play much in an effort to keep him healthy. Ford has a pressure percentage of 10.5% and three sacks but he missed a game with a concussion and has been limited to 16 snaps per game in six contests.

Even Warner, who earned a five-year, $95 million contract extension in July because of his consistency, hasn’t played up to his own lofty standards. While Warner has looked more like himself the past two weeks, he’s allowed 17 of 20 passes thrown his way to go for completions, according to Pro Football Focus.

“I speak for myself and I hold myself to the highest expectations of anyone,” Warner said. “It doesn’t matter, media, coaches, my teammates, they’re never going to have expectations higher than myself. So, there’s always room to grow, always room to do more in my mind.”

The injury bug is also having a say in how the 49ers stars are faring. The team’s top tight end (Kittle), cornerback (Jason Verrett), running back (Raheem Mostert) and kicker (Gould) have spent time on injured reserve, with Verrett and Mostert lost for the season. Integral youngsters such as defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and linebacker Dre Greenlaw have missed extended time.

Kittle and Gould are expected to at least return to practice this week, which — in Kittle’s case especially — would be a big step in getting the Niners back to normal.

“We’re missing Kittle out there with his vocal leadership,” Bosa said. “It does help to have some guys who are more vocal and will get on other guys about certain things but we have got to work with what we’ve got.”

None of that means the Niners’ stars must try to do too much. But it’s not lost on them that when things go awry as they already have this season, it’s up to them to right the ship.

“There’s not some magic potions you can drink or something to do out of my assignment to go and try to make a pick-six to win the game,” Warner said. “I’m going to go out there and do my assignment and do it to the best of my ability as hard as I can go. And if I’m doing that on a day-to-day basis, that’s when those plays are going to come.”

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San Francisco 49ers WR Deebo Samuel, LB Fred Warner out 1-2 weeks, coach Kyle Shanahan says

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday after receiving important injury news on two of their best players.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that receiver Deebo Samuel and linebacker Fred Warner suffered groin and hamstring strains, respectively, in San Francisco’s 34-26 victory Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings.

The bad news is that both will miss at least Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. But Shanahan was more pleased by the fact that both players aren’t expected to miss more than a game or two as the 6-5 Niners make their push for an NFC playoff spot.

“That’s what I was kind of telling you guys last night that I hope for that it was just a strain,” Shanahan said. “And strains usually [last] anywhere from one to two weeks. I think it was very good news considering what it could have been.”

According to Shanahan, both Samuel and Warner could return as soon as the Dec. 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Barring a setback, both would be expected back in time for a Dec. 19 home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

While the Niners got relatively good news in the big picture, the loss of Samuel and Warner even for one week is significant.

Samuel has been the team’s most productive offensive player, establishing himself as the league’s premier multidimensional weapon.

On Sunday, Samuel became just the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards, five rushing touchdowns and five receiving scores in the same season.

Without Samuel, the Niners will look to second-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk to continue building on his recent surge, as well as the likes of tight end George Kittle, wideout Jauan Jennings and a burgeoning running game.

“He’s been a big part of our offense,” Shanahan said. “But I think we’re in a spot right now that we can overcome that.”

Replacing Warner also won’t be easy, especially since it’s something the Niners haven’t had to do at any point in his three-plus seasons. When he misses Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, it will be the first contest Warner has missed since he came into the league in 2018, snapping a streak of 59 consecutive regular-season starts.

When Warner departed in the third quarter against the Vikings, the Niners turned to Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles to step in at middle linebacker with Azeez Al-Shaair remaining at weakside linebacker.

How that plays out this week will depend on the status of fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw. Greenlaw also left Sunday’s game with what Shanahan described as an “irritation” of the core muscle injury that had kept him out since Week 1. Greenlaw is considered day-to-day this week.

And with strongside linebacker Marcell Harris in the concussion protocol, the 49ers figure to enter the Seattle game woefully thin at linebacker. That puts even more onus on Al-Shaair, who had an interception and a fumble recovery in the win against Minnesota.

“Azeez has been ready for anything we’ve asked him to do,” Shanahan said. “He always runs around and plays like his hair is on fire and he loves playing the football game. That’s not changing, but he’s just getting more and more confident of where to be, what to anticipate … He’s been playing at a high level all year and whether he’s inside or outside, I expect it to continue, we need it to continue, because he’s one of the reasons we’re playing pretty good right now.”

Elsewhere on the injury front, running back Trey Sermon suffered an ankle sprain that Shanahan said will keep him out “for a little while” and makes him a candidate to head to injured reserve with a chance to return later in the season.

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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers not expected to have surgery to repair broken toe during bye week

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are expected to use rest — not surgery — to help the quarterback’s fractured pinkie toe heal.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that Rodgers is “gathering other opinions, so we’ll see where that goes,” but a source said those opinions are not expected to lead to surgery during this week’s bye.

The Packers (9-3) are off until Dec. 12, when they’ll face the Chicago Bears in a Sunday night prime-time game.

“The most important thing is healing and taking care of my toe,” Rodgers said Sunday when asked about his bye-week plans.

NFL Network reported earlier on Monday that Rodgers does not plan to have surgery.

Rodgers said he fractured the toe during his COVID-19 quarantine earlier this month, and he has played in the past three games since with almost no on-field practice preparations.

The only full-fledged practice he took part in during that stretch was on Nov. 19, two days before the Packers’ loss at Minnesota. He said he received a pain-killing injection at halftime of the game against the Vikings but did not need one to play in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Rams.

“The difference is I didn’t have to get shot up again at halftime, so definitely the healing this week not practicing [helped],” Rodgers said after he threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 36-28 win over the Rams.

“Last week, I tried to do some stuff on Friday, felt like we needed maybe a little jolt and that kind of impacted Sunday a little bit from a pain standpoint. This week, I just did a walk-through on Saturday and obviously all the walk-throughs during the week, but no practice time, I think really helped. It definitely helped looking at the scans. The healing, kind of get to a better spot, so I’ve definitely felt better, but third quarter, late third, early fourth and I got stepped on early in the game, there was definitely some pain I was dealing with.”

Rodgers even had a rushing touchdown on Sunday, beating Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey around the edge for a 1-yard score. In the past two games combined, Rodgers has thrown for 692 yards and six touchdowns without an interception.

He said after Sunday’s game that he would make a decision about surgery after additional tests on Monday.

“The toe felt good most of the game,” Rodgers said. “Was just actually in talking with the docs. Not sure at this point; we’re going to do some more testing in the morning and get a better view of what’s going on in there, and then make a decision at that time.”

LaFleur said previously that he would leave the decision up to Rodgers and the medical staff.

“I’m not involved in any of those decisions, so I just take any information and hear it,” LaFleur said. “I don’t have ‘M.D.’ after my name. So I’ll let them handle that.”

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Dallas Cowboys DT Trysten Hill suspended two games for punching Las Vegas Raiders OG John Simpson

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The NFL suspended Cowboys defensive tackle Trysten Hill without pay for two games on Monday for punching Raiders guard John Simpson following Dallas’ Thanksgiving Day loss to Las Vegas.

The suspension was issued by NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan for violations of unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules.

“After the Las Vegas Raiders-Dallas Cowboys game on November 25, you engaged in conduct that this office considers unnecessary roughness and displays a lack of sportsmanship. Specifically, as both teams were shaking hands, you waited more than 50 seconds for your opponent at the 50-yard line. When you located him, you then walked toward him in the opposite direction of your locker room. You both engaged in a verbal chest-to-chest confrontation which you escalated by throwing an open hand punch to his facemask, forcible enough to cause your opponent’s helmet to come off,” Runyan wrote in the letter to Hill.

Hill is appealing the suspension, a source told ESPN’s Todd Archer. Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, who are jointly appointed and paid by the NFL and the NFLPA, will issue a ruling on the appeal.

If Hill’s suspension stands, he would be eligible to return to the Cowboys’ active roster on Monday, Dec. 13. He would miss games against the New Orleans Saints this Thursday and against the Washington Football Team on Dec. 12.

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