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Fann Mail: Which 49ers Players on IR are Eligible to Return?

For four straight weeks, the San Francisco 49ers have been painfully close to getting their first victory of the 2017 season. And yet, the 49ers sit at the bottom of the NFC West standings with an 0-5 record.

Here's this week's mailbag, addressing all of the hot topics leading up to San Francisco's Week 6 road game against the Washington Redskins.

Let's start with the most pressing question(s) on everyone's mind. Pierre Garcon remains the 49ers starting quarterback. I can say confidently that Kyle Shanahan's loyalty to Hoyer has nothing to do with that decision. Put simply, the coaching staff believes that Hoyer still gives the 49ers the best chance to win.

Here's what Shanahan said on Monday regarding a potential QB change to rookie C.J. Beathard.

"(When) we feel it's the best thing for the team, the best thing for C.J. and the players around him, that's when we'll do that," Shanahan said.

As for the second question, I'll harken back to the word Shanahan keeps using – perspective. Beathard is only five games into his rookie season so it's far too early to be concerned about the "long-term plan". There are still 11 games left on the 49ers schedule. To echo Shanahan, Beathard will become the team's starter the second the coaching staff deems that he's San Francisco's best option. Just because they haven't made the switch yet doesn't mean they've soured on the Iowa product.

Expect to see Reuben Foster and Eric Reid back at practice on Wednesday. The week of practice will determine whether or not each player will be active on Sunday in Washington. There's definitely hope that Reid and Foster will return to game action, but it's not a certainty at this point.

The latest depth chart was released on Tuesday and featured no changes apart from Dexter McCoil taking Lorenzo Jerome's spot.

These two have entirely different roles, which makes it hard to say that one should be playing over the other. Arik Armstead is going to remain a staple on early downs, but expect to see him rotated out on passing downs. You could argue that Elvis Dumervil is the most specialized player on San Francisco's roster not named Robbie Gould, Bradley Pinion or Kyle Nelson.

That means to say that Robert Saleh isn't going to use Dumervil unless he knows the veteran will have a chance to get after the quarterback. Dumervil played 22 snaps in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts, and I'd expect his snap count to remain in that ballpark going forward. The goal is to keep Dumervil fresh for critical moments. It's evident how impactful Dumervil can be despite the limited reps. He currently leads the 49ers defense with 3.5 sacks.

Shanahan and John Lynch said from the beginning that this was going to be a process. That doesn't make 0-5 easier to swallow for anyone, but it does tell you that they're playing the long game here. The goal remains to take things one week at a time, get a good understanding of the talent on the roster and ultimately win on Sundays.

He cannot. Only players who started the season on the active 53-man roster are eligible for the "IR designation to return" tag. Two candidates who fit that bill are Garrett Celek and Ronald Blair III.

Jed York has been supportive thus far, and I don't see that changing. Here's a link back to the statement from the entire organization that was released two weeks ago.

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