The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver room was hit by the injury bug late in the year, sidelining key rotational players for the tail end of the regular season slate. Ray-Ray McCloud III was placed on the Injured Reserve list due to rib injuries in Week 14 and then Jauan Jennings entered the concussion protocol following the Arizona Cardinals Week 15 matchup.
McCloud III made it back in time for the regular season finale against the Los Angeles Rams while Jennings needed until the Bye to make it through the five-step process needed to clear the protocol. With those two wideouts rejoining the team, the 49ers arsenal of pass catchers will enter the NFL Playoffs at full force.
"It was good to have JJ back, for sure," wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk said. "It's the mindset that he brings, he carries it to the rest of the room and just the energy, having back out there on the field. We still heard him while he was gone but hearing him in the huddle, on the sideline - he has good energy and everyone can feel it."
The challenge of this week and last has been keeping up the offensive momentum, chemistry and productivity the team has built since coming out of the Week 9 Bye. The 49ers closed out the year averaging just under 29 points a game and will go 20-plus days without their QB1 Brock Purdy throwing passes to his top targets in a live game. The last time Purdy was active for a game was December 31st against the Washington Commanders, and the earliest he could have another game snap is January 20th.
"Mind and body, you're just trying to stay in it," Aiyuk said. "Three weeks, I'm not sure about three weeks. We played with him in Washington. We didn't play with him last week, through two practices and the game, but we just went out there and had a pretty good practice. It was a pretty good practice for the offense."
Because the 49ers had a low stakes game in Week 18 that sidelined injured players and rotated in everyone else, the team was able to run a practice similar to that of full-speed Thursday workout.
"It's the same practice, just altered a little bit," Aiyuk said. "It's obviously still a Bye week, we still want to get guys back and get everyone where they need to be. It's pretty similar to a Thursday practice."
San Francisco will have another full-go practice Friday before taking the weekend off.