49ers returning from injury who could have biggest impact

49ers returning from injury who could have biggest impact

SANTA CLARA — Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL season, there are several 49ers players who could make a significant impact after returning from injuries. 

Every NFL team sustains injuries throughout the season and the 49ers have had their fair share in 2021. After the first open practice of the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs), coach Kyle Shanahan provided updates on a handful of players who are expected to return to the field healthy for training camp. 

The club will be looking for several players to contribute, especially after the departures of key pieces during free agency. Vacancies left by DL D.J. Jones and CB K’Waun Williams, who are now with the Denver Broncos and Laken Tomlinson who signed with the New York Jets, will need to be filled. 

Here is a look at the players who potentially could make the biggest impact in their return to the field: 

DT Maurice Hurst

The fifth-year lineman is set to return from a calf injury that limited him to two games in 2021, his first season with the 49ers. Hurst spent his first three NFL seasons with the Raiders appearing in 40 games and recorded eight career sacks, 78 total tackles — 53 solo, nine for a loss. 

Hurst signed his second one-year deal with the 49ers, who hope that the tackle will contribute to the interior of the defensive line in the absence of Jones. 

DT Javon Kinlaw 

The No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is healthy following a second procedure on his knee. Kinlaw looks lighter and leaner and according to the head coach, is ahead of schedule on his return. 

 

The defensive tackle still will be a sizable roadblock for any running back attempting to run between the tackles at any weight and the team will be looking for Kinlaw to step right into the role that Jones held over his five-year stint in Santa Clara.

“The lightest Kinlaw has been was the end of his rookie year when he got hurt at that Dallas game and he was playing at the top of his level then,” Shanahan said. “He’s a pretty strong, massive guy. So the way he’s been working, the way he’s been eating, he’s going to be the right size, whatever that weight is because he’s in pretty good shape.”  

Kinlaw only appeared in four games in 2021 and 18 total since being drafted by the 49ers who will be expecting much more from the lineman going forward. 

RT Mike McGlinchey 

Like Kinlaw, Shanahan shared that McGlinchey is ahead of schedule in his return from knee surgery that ended his 2021 campaign after only eight games. The right tackle will play a vital role in the development of Trey Lance who is set to take the reins under center. 

While Tom Compton did a commendable job anchoring the right side of the line while McGlinchey was out, the Notre Dame product will provide an upgrade to the position upon his return. The fifth-year lineman was seen watching practice from the sidelines on Tuesday. 

“Those guys have been great,” Shanahan said of Kinlaw and McGlinchey. “We didn’t expect to have them until training camp, but just looking at them out there and how they’re moving. We consider them ahead of schedule and it’s been very positive on both of those guys.”

CB Jason Verrett

Verrett’s story is unbelievable. When he has been healthy, he has been an elite cornerback, but devastating injuries have limited the TCU product to 40 games over his seven-year career. The 49ers signed the veteran to a third one-year deal with the club knowing what he is capable of if he can once again return healthy. 

“We were pumped to get Jason back and we know it’s been a hard recovery for him like he’s gone through a number of times,” Shanahan said. “But I know when he got back here and everyone saw him, everyone’s pumped to have that guy back and we’re all pulling that he can get healthy for training camp.”

RELATED: Shanahan still expects 49ers to trade Jimmy G before season

QB Trey Lance

On Tuesday, Lance went into detail about how his injured finger made adjusting the way he threw the ball a necessity. Now, fully healed, the quarterback will be able to play without a second thought on how to release the ball as he throws. 

 

“I could manage it, but it’s a finger, so it’s hard,” Lance said. “The process for me was it didn’t get straight all the way was kind of the issue. So right away, I couldn’t squeeze that’s why I didn’t throw after that preseason game. And yeah, as the season went on, it kind of started to straighten more and more and the swelling went down, but it’s just a thing that takes time.”  

Lance did not need a procedure to fix the injury, just time for it to heal on its own. With his hand at 100-percent heading into OTAs Lance could be the biggest key factor in the 49ers’ success in 2022.

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