49ers running back Elijah Mitchell is set to return against the Steelers after suffering from an adductor strain that had bothered him for weeks, he said on Thursday. Mitchell is part of the one-two combination in the backfield with Christian McCaffrey and spells the ultra-talented running back. However, in recent years, Mitchell’s durability has come into question. He played in just five games a year ago and, in his two seasons in the NFL, has played in just 16 of 33 possible games.
However, when Mitchell does play, he lights it up on the field. His efficiency metrics are through the roof, averaging over six yards per touch a year ago. His 6.2 yards per carry in only 45 carries represent the explosive back that he can be in the Kyle Shanahan scheme.
The strain occurred in training camp, and Mitchell did not play in their latest preseason game. However, he noted that he was “ready to go” for Week 1 and returned to practice. Those injuries still live in his mind, but it is football, and Mitchell has accepted that some of those things will inevitably happen.
“I’m a physical player, so that’s what I do,” Mitchell said. “Stuff happens in football. But I’m on the verge of wanting to have a big year and run like I usually run.”
The Steelers will wait for updates on other 49ers injuries, including Talanoa Hufanga, George Kittle, and a non-injury situation that continues to loom over the game, the Nick Bosa contract dispute. On Saturday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted that the deal was “not a slam dunk” to be finished before Week 1.
A week ago, Ian Rapoport suggested that Bosa could legitimately miss the team’s first game against the Steelers while his contract situation plays out. Lynch noted there is now “open, healthy communication” between the 49ers and Bosa’s side.
“Will be miss a game? I don’t know,” Rapoport said on KNBR last week. “But I will say this. I would say, if it’s possible for anyone to miss a game, Nick Bosa would be in the conversation. That family, as principled as they are, I could see it.”
Bosa is under contract for the 2023 season and would begin to miss out on salary if he misses games. But Rapoport said there did not seem to be an urgency to the proceedings last week, just over two weeks from the opener. Now, it seems like the rush is starting to hit. With seven days until they kick off at Acrisure Stadium against the Steelers, Bosa will play on limited practice time if he does play.