There were still no signs of Kyler Murray (ankle) or DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) during the Arizona Cardinals final practice of the week. Neither of the two practiced in any capacity leading up to Sunday's divisional rematch. However, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury hopes another day of rest could give his offensive playmakers the opportunity to take the field on Sunday as both will be considered "game-time decisions."
Since being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, Murray has not missed an NFL start despite playing through injuries. If Murray is unable to play, backup quarterback Colt McCoy will get the start for Arizona.
"I know he hasn't practiced for a couple days but you try to read through the lines in press conferences," John Lynch said of Murray’s potential to play on Sunday. "He's just a competitive dude who hasn't missed a whole lot. So, I expect to see him. I think you always have to and to plan for that. And then you adjust out from there. So, I would think the same with him and Hopkins, and we'll see. But that's our expectation that we see those guys."
As for the 49ers, Deebo Samuel's availability is in question for Sunday. Samuel has been dealing with a calf injury that, per head coach Kyle Shanahan, is in a worse spot than it was at this point last week. The wideout was spotted working off to the side during practices this week and will use the next two days to rehab and rest in advance of Sunday.
"Deebo is a guy that if it's possible for him to play, he will," Shanahan said on Friday. "That's why you've got to communicate with him a lot and understand his personality and what he wants. And he also understands what it means if he does play and he can't last through it or has to go out after two series or something. I'm glad we've got two more days to decide that."
George Kittle's practice window was opened this week as the tight end made his return to the field. Kittle was placed on Injured Reserve ahead of the first meeting between the two clubs while working through a calf injury. Per Lynch, the tight end has been "trending in the right direction" in his first series of practices in over four weeks and is expected to be promoted to the active roster over the weekend. Kicker Robbie Gould (groin) is also expected to return in Week 9.
The 49ers are optimistic for running back Jeff Wilson Jr., who also returned to practice this week. The running back opened the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list after suffering a torn meniscus back in May. Given Wilson Jr.'s lack of football over the last five months, the 49ers are erring on the side of caution in his return to the field. However, Lynch noted the "tremendous shape" Wilson has displayed since returning, creating a chance for the running back to be promoted to the active roster this week.
Wilson Jr. is the most experienced along the 49ers backfield, with Raheem Mostert (knee) out for the season. He would complement Elijah Mitchell, who has assumed the bulk of San Francisco's carries this season. His early return is also an insurance policy with Mitchell appearing on the injury report this week. The rookie running back suffered a rib injury in Week 8, forcing Mitchell to miss the first practice of the week on Wednesday. Since, the running back returned in a limited capacity for the remainder of San Francisco's sessions wearing a blue non-contact jersey.
"It had to do with how (Wilson Jr.) looked this week and he had a great week. But that is only three practices in, but he looked as good and ready as he could be. So from a health standpoint and everything, there's no question on that," Shanahan said. "Ideally, in a perfect world, we'd like to give him a couple more practices. But with Elijah being questionable and the way it looked this week, that's why it's an option."
Dee Ford was also limited during the week with a back injury. The veteran pass rusher dealt with an intricate back and neck injury that kept him sidelined for all but one game in 2020. Ford was already coming off of a concussion that kept him out of the Week 8 contest against the Chicago Bears and per Lynch, both injuries were conjointly related.
"(It's) really not a new issue, kind of an ongoing issue with him and we're trying to work through that and see if we have him this week and make some decisions moving forward," Lynch said. "But you know Dee is a difference maker when he's out there. The challenge has been having him out there."
Here's a look at the 49ers and Cardinals final injury report heading into Sunday.
- DT Rashard Lawrence (calf)
- RB Jonathan Ward (concussion)
- DE J.J. Watt (shoulder)
- S James Wiggins (knee)
- C Max Garcia (Achilles)
- WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring)
- QB Kyler Murray (ankle)
Of note, Cardinals assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, running backs coach James Saxon and assistant offensive line coach Brian Natkin will not attend Sunday's game due to COVID-19 protocols the team reported. Assistant special teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons will primarily handle Rodgers' special teams responsibilities while duties of the other two assistants will be assumed by other members of the offensive coaching staff.