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49ers’ Elijah Mitchell on comeback trail again as playoffs near

SANTA CLARA — Running back Elijah Mitchell returned to practice as the 49ers look to activate him off injured reserve for the second time this season. Mitchell sprained his left knee Nov. 27 against the New Orleans Saints; he sprained his right knee in the Sept. 11 opener at Chicago.

In the only other two games he’s played, he had 18 carries for 89 yards in the Nov. 13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, and he had a team-high nine carries for 59 yards in a Nov. 21 victory in Mexico City against the Cardinals, who trailed just 14-10 before losing 38-10.

Mitchell missed six games last season and endured multiple injuries as a rookie (adductor, ribs, finger, concussion, knee) and he underwent a knee procedure in the offseason.

Christian McCaffrey, acquired Oct. 20, has started every game during the 49ers’ nine-game win streak. He emerged with a mild ankle sprain from Sunday’s overtime win at the Raiders, and he will not practice Wednesday.

The 49ers have had 15 different ball carriers, their most in any season since Shanahan’s arrival in 2017; McCaffrey (701 yards, 4.7 yards per carry) will be the 49ers’ sixth different leading rusher in as many seasons. This year’s other top rushers: Jeff Wilson Jr. (468 yards; 5.1 ypc), Jordan Mason (230 yards; 6.6 ypc), Deebo Samuel (228 yards; 5.6 ypc), Mitchell (224 yards; 5.6 ypc), Ray-Ray McCloud (78 yards; 19.5 ypc), Ty Davis-Price (72 yards; 2.8 ypc) and Trey Lance (67 yards; 4.2 ypc).


Coach Kyle Shanahan did not address his team collectively about Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest in the Buffalo Bills’ game Monday night, but he did speak to players individually. “We made our doctor, our clinician, available here all day. A lot of players used it. Most of them used it for their wives,” Shanahan said. “Most of our players were doing alright but the wives needed it the most.”

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Others not practicing Wednesday: guard Aaron Banks (ankle, knee), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (back), quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (foot), left tackle Trent Williams (rest) and defensive linemen Nick Bosa (rest), Javon Kinlaw (knee) and Kevin Givens (knee). Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (ankle) remains limited.


David Blough will start at quarterback for the Cardinals, who’ve lost six straight and fallen to 4-12. He is 0-6 as a starter, including Sunday’s 20-19 defeat at Atlanta where he passed for 222 yards (24-of-40) with a touchdown and no interceptions; he went 0-5 with the 2019 Detroit Lions.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury ruled out Colt McCoy, who lost to the 49ers on Nov. 21 and could be next season’s starter as Kyler Murray recovers from knee reconstruction. Murray’s surgery Tuesday went well to repair his anterior cruciate ligament and a meniscus tear, Kingsbury told reporters.

DeAndre Hopkins will not play against the 49ers but fellow wide receiver Marquise Brown (wrist) will play, Kingsbury said.

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