The San Francisco 49ers enjoyed an extra day off coming out of their Week 15 win and officially kicked off their adjusted practice schedule on Thursday in preparation for the Baltimore Ravens. Of the nine injured players head coach Kyle Shanahan named in his Monday conference call, just two were able to rejoin the team for Thursday's workout, offensive lineman Spencer Burford and cornerback Deommodore Lenoir. Burford was working through a knee injury and was inactive versus the Arizona Cardinals while Lenoir suffered a rib contusion in the second half of Sunday's game.
As far as injury concerns go, the 49ers defensive line has taken the biggest hit over the course of the last few weeks with starting interior defensive linemen Arik Armstead (foot/knee) and Javon Hargrave (hamstring) still not practicing on Thursday. Armstead has missed the last two games while Hargrave was inactive for the first time this year against the Cardinals. An additional injury to Kalia Davis (high ankle sprain) spurred a few 49ers roster moves in the last 24 hours. Davis, who is expected to miss several weeks, landed on the Injured Reserve list, while the team promoted running back Jeremy McNichols to the active roster and signed defensive lineman Taylor Stallworth to the practice squad.
"I'm not really familiar, we just worked out a bunch of guys yesterday," Shanahan said. "I know our guys really liked him from what they've seen from him earlier and definitely loved him in the workout. We are low on numbers so we had to get him as part of this practice squad, and we'll see how he looks this week."
Javon Kinlaw and Kevin Givens got the start in Sunday's 45-29 win over the Cardinals and had several others filtering into the interior rotation. The defense as a whole gave up an uncharacteristic 234 yards on the ground and will look to hone in on the run defense with the top rushing attack headed to Levi's® Stadium on Christmas Day.
"It was a huge challenge for them," Shanahan said. "Losing Kalia during the game really hurt because we just tired out a lot, but I think we'll be better this week."
Scouting Ravens Quarterback Lamar
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has faced Lamar Jackson and the Ravens just once throughout his seven-season tenure in The Bay, and the 20-17 loss to Baltimore was one of just three dropped contests en route to the 2019 team's Super Bowl LIV appearance. Since Jackson's MVP season, he's continued to hold the title of the Ravens leading rusher, however, Shanahan noted his progression as a passer.
"When I just watch him on crossover tape, everyone knows how elite of a runner he is, but the way he can throw, he's always been such a good thrower," Shanahan said. "What I see is, I think he sees the field well. He's got a good way of finding the holes in the defense, whether he is scrambling off-schedule or it's in the pocket and rhythm. He's just got to decide all the time whether he wants to kill you with his arm or his legs. Both of them are a very good option for him. That's why he is such a challenge."
Jackson heads into the Week 16 matchup with 741 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground in addition to his 3000+ passing yards and 17 touchdowns through the air. He's the most elusive quarterback the 49ers will face in the regular season slate. You don't need to look back farther than Week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars to see Jackson's ability to escape the pocket and take off for first down yardage or shed defenders and still hit his targets downfield.
"He's evolved a lot, so he plays the game differently (than in 2019)," defensive lineman Nick Bosa said. "I think he's trying to sit (in the pocket) a little more and go through his reads. (The Ravens offense) is not quite as run heavy, but they are the No. 1 rushing team in the league right. It's obviously something we are going to have to deal with."