Mon Nov 30 6:00pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert scores a rushing touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) is hugged by teammates after making the game-winning field goal as time expires during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. San Francisco won 23-20. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens throws against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
After a string of injuries to key players, several coronavirus cases and other bad breaks, the San Francisco 49ers somehow find themselves still in the NFC playoff race heading into December.
Now they must face a whole new challenge after Santa Clara County issued strict new coronavirus protocols that will force the Niners to become vagabonds the next three weeks by practicing and playing away from home.
The 49ers (5-6) got that news just before heading to Los Angeles over the weekend and they managed to push it aside enough to beat the Rams 23-20 to move within one game of the final playoff spot.
''I can't be more proud of our team,'' coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. ''What they've gone through all year, but especially these last two weeks and especially these last 24 hours. I did have a lot of concern because some of the stuff all of us and our families have been dealing with. I can't tell you how proud I am of those guys, how they went out there and fought. Not all of it was perfect, but their heart and energy and everything was. I couldn't ask for any more from those guys.''
The Niners have been forced to play significant time without stars such as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, 2019 All-Pro tight end George Kittle, edge rusher Nick Bosa, cornerback Richard Sherman, leading rusher Raheem Mostert, and starting receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
But with Sherman, Samuel and Mostert returning Sunday from injuries and all making big contributions, the Niners are hoping they can stay in contention long enough for a few more key players like Garoppolo and possibly even Kittle to return.
They will have to do it on the road with the team announcing Monday it will play the next two ''home'' games in Arizona at the Cardinals' stadium in response to a three-week ban of contact sport practices and games in Santa Clara County.
The Niners will also need to find a new place to practice, and the players are prepared for a long stretch away from their families.
''No matter what we go through, we're a team and we truly believe that we're going to take care of each other and look after each other,'' Mostert said.
Samuel after the catch. Samuel returned after missing three games with a hamstring injury and had 11 catches for 133 yards. He gained 136 of those yards after the catch - he had minus-3 yards at the catch, with several behind the line of scrimmage - according to SportRadar, the second most in a game by a wide receiver since 2010 to the 147 Demaryius Thomas had for Denver against Arizona in 2013. Samuel forced seven missed tackles with his physical running style, according to Pro Football Focus.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Third-down offense. San Francisco went only 3 for 14 (21.4%) on third downs for its third-lowest conversion rate of the season. The Niners converted only one third down that needed more than 2 yards, missed on two short-yardage tries and went 0 for 5 when needing between 3 and 7 yards. Nick Mullens was 3 for 8 for 46 yards on third downs.
Robert Saleh. The Niners defensive coordinator who figures to be a hot coaching candidate in the offseason has done a brilliant job running a unit that has been missing Bosa and fellow edge rusher Dee Ford almost all season. San Francisco generated four takeaways and allowed only one offensive touchdown to the Rams.
Offensive line. The Niners were overmatched up front against the Rams with rookie Colton McKivitz and fill-in center Daniel Brunskill struggling to slow down Aaron Donald, and right tackle Mike McGlinchey also getting beaten a few times. The Niners allowed two sacks and averaged only 3.5 yards per carry.
Slot cornerback Jamar Taylor was lost to a knee injury that Shanahan feared could be season ending. Taylor had replaced K'Waun Williams, who remains sidelined by a knee injury.
58-The Niners will go at least 58 full days without a home game thanks to the new regulations. They hosted Green Bay on Nov. 5 and aren't scheduled to play again at Levi's Stadium until the season finale against Seattle on Jan. 3.
The Niners play the Bills on Monday night in Arizona.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB T.J. Logan (knee) and WR Jaydon Mickens were activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 on Monday, Nov. 30. Logan will remain on the Reserve/Injured list, however.
Philadelphia Eagles LB Genard Avery (elbow) was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Nov. 30. The Eagles also elevated DT T.Y. McGill and TE Caleb Wilson from the practice squad.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (knee) was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, Nov. 30.
Kansas City Chiefs S Tedric Thompson was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns on Monday, Nov. 30. FB Andy Janovich was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list to make room for him on the roster.
Free-agent WR Tavon Austin (49ers) signed an undisclosed contract with the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Nov. 30.
The Denver Broncos Defense was not able to slow down fill-in quarterback Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints in the 31-3 blowout loss in Week 12. A week after sacking Dolphins rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa six times and springing the upset on Miami, the Broncos D put up little fight on a day in which their offense and practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton could only muster one completion as the emergency starter under center. They were of little help to fantasy managers by allowing 30-plus points for the fifth time in the last six games. Denver managed only three sacks (two by DeMarcus Walker) and one interception of Hill in the contest. With another dreadful matchup upcoming -- the division-rival Chiefs -- Denver's D should be avoided once again. They allowed a season-worst 43 points to KC back in Week 7.
Updating previous reports, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring) was diagnosed with a hamstring strain that will likely force him to miss some time, according to a source. The Giants will know more later this week when Jones attempts to practice, but there is optimism that he won't be out long. Tests on Monday ruled out a significant tear. It's highly unlikely that Jones will play in Week 13 against the Seahawks, meaning that backup Colt McCoy should see his first start since his lone start for Washington last year. Jones, the sixth overall pick in 2019, has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,332 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. New York's pass-catchers will need to be downgraded for the next game if McCoy is starting under center.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus gave the team their only points of the day in the Week 12 blowout loss to the Saints by making a season-long 58-yard kick in the 31-3 defeat. McManus hasn't missed a kick since Week 7 against the Chiefs when he shanked an extra point, and he's missed just one of his 22 field-goal attempts on the year as well. He's 7-for-8 on 50-plus yard tries and has proven to be one of the most automatic kickers in the game with his 95.5 percent success rate in 2020. However, he remains a fringe fantasy starter, at best, because of the Broncos inconsistent offense. McManus had zero chance of racking up points for fantasy owners with practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton playing QB on Sunday. In the rematch with KC in Week 13, McManus should be considered a low-upside option. He was afforded just one field goal try in the first matchup in Week 7.
Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore (ankle) suffered an ankle injury in Week 12, but an X-ray on Monday, Nov. 30, revealed no break. According to head coach Matt Rhule, Moore may be able to return after the team's Week 13 bye.
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy wasn't alone, but he failed to haul in a pass on his only target in the 31-3 blowout loss to the Saints in Week 12. On a day when practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton filled in at quarterback due to COVID-19 knocking out the rest of Denver's eligible QBs, the Broncos offense managed to complete just one pass against a strong New Orleans defense. Jeudy should've been benched by his fantasy managers, and he should remain there unless Drew Lock makes a return in Week 13 against the Chiefs. The rookie from Alabama had seen 40 targets in his previous four games, but he caught just 18 of them and remains a WR4/flex in deeper leagues in this inconsistent offense. Jeudy had just two catches for 20 yards in the previous meeting with the Chiefs in Week 7.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick had just two targets in the 31-3 blowout loss to the Saints in Week 12 and failed to catch a single pass. Emergency fill-in quarterback Kendall Hinton attempted just nine passes and completed only one of them, so the entire Broncos passing game was non-existent on Sunday. Patrick should only be considered as a WR4/flex in deeper leagues in Week 13 against the division-rival Chiefs if quarterback Drew Lock returns from the COVID-19 protocols. Patrick has been the team's most consistent wideout in 2020 and has three 100-yard games, but he has only three touchdowns and remains a shaky flex play in deeper leagues because of the inconsistent nature of Denver's offense. The 27-year-old caught three of four targets for 44 yards in the first meeting with Kansas City in Week 7.
With Denver Broncos practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton filling in as the team's emergency quarterback in Week 12 against the Saints, tight end Noah Fant caught Hinton's lone completion of the day for 13 yards on two targets. Fantasy managers would've been smart to bench everyone from Denver's offense on this strange day in the 31-3 blowout loss. Unless quarterback Drew Lock returns in Week 13 against the division-rival Chiefs, Fant should remain benched. The 23-year-old is still looking for his first touchdown since Week 2. He caught three of his seven targets for 38 yards in the first meeting with KC back in Week 7. Fant continues to have TE1 appeal with Lock under center, but he'll be more of a low-end TE1 if Lock is cleared from the COVID-19 protocol this week.
San Francisco 49ers CB Jamar Taylor (knee) will miss the remainder of the season after he was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament Monday, Nov. 30.
Philadelphia Eagles veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters (toe) will play on Monday night against the Seahawks despite having a broken and dislocated toe that will require surgery in the offseason, according to a source. However, instead of playing left tackle and protecting quarterback Carson Wentz's blind side, Peters will be moving to guard to help make up for his lack of mobility. Philly's offensive line, which has been the best at run-blocking so far this season, is encountering some adversity in the form of injuries to Peters and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), who said over the weekend that he's done for the season. Although the offensive line still has plenty of talent, they'll be working at far less than full strength in Week 12 against Seattle and to close out the season.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains have been splitting the play-calling duties around 50/50 for around the last four games. The Jets have been more competitive in recent weeks, even with backup quarterback Joe Flacco starting two of the last three games, but the Jets remain the only winless team in the NFL through 12 weeks of the season. The play-calling situation probably won't make much difference in New York's underwhelming offense the rest of the way. The good news for the Jets is that quarterback Sam Darnold returned from a shoulder injury in Week 12 and he has his full complement of receivers in Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims to close out the season. However, it's still hard to get behind any of the team's offensive weapons for fantasy purposes heading into Week 13 against the Raiders.
Tests on New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring) on Monday showed that he avoided a major injury, according to sources. Jones will have an outside chance of playing in Week 13 against the Seahawks, but the team will have a better read on his status when they know if he'll be able to get on the practice field later this week. Jones was looking really good on Sunday against the Bengals before going down with his injury, and he'd offer some streaming upside next week against a bad Seahawks Defense if he's able to play. If he cannot go, the G-Men would likely go with backup Colt McCoy, who came in for Jones in Week 12. McCoy went 6-for-10 for 31 yards in his first game action in 14 months. He'd be a low-end QB2 option for desperate fantasy managers in superflex leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow (knee) will head West this week to have reconstructive knee surgery on his ACL, and the procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. Although there have been varying reports on whether Burrow will be ready to go in Week 1 of the 2021 season, he's expected to make a full recovery after tearing multiple ligaments in Week 11. Burrow is likely looking at a timetable of around eight to nine months, so we'll have to follow his rehab closely heading into training camp and the start of next season. Cincinnati is expected to play it extra safe with the face of their franchise after taking the former LSU star with the first overall pick in 2020. Brandon Allen got the start at QB in Week 12, but Ryan Finley could also see some starts before the end of the season for the Bengals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones' lack of touches (10) in Week 12 was due primarily to the team needing its pass-catchers on the field, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'I don't think there's any doubt (Jones) needs to have 20 touches,' Arians told the team's website Monday, Nov. 30.
Fantasy Spin: Jones ranks fourth in the league in rushing and is averaging a career-high 5.1 yards per carry, yet Arians continues to make excuses as to why he doesn't get the ball more often. Arians has also shown a disturbing tendency to publicly support Jones only to leave him off the field for significant portions of the game shortly after doing so. If Arians should commit to Jones down the stretch, he would be a strong RB2 with RB1 upside. As it is, he should continue to be viewed as an inconsistent RB2 with a low floor.