Christian McCaffrey will miss 49ers regular-season finale but should return for playoffs

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — NFL leading rusher Christian McCaffrey will miss San Francisco's regular season finale with a mild calf strain, but he should be ready to return for the playoffs.

McCaffrey got hurt on Sunday win 27-10 in Washington, which helped the 49ers clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. San Francisco (12-4) will host a divisional round playoff game on Jan. 20 or 21, giving McCaffrey about three weeks to recover.

"We're confident in that," coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday about McCaffrey being ready for the playoff opener. "It was good news. It could have been worse news. We're glad we'll be taking care of him this week. Hopefully he'll start going during our vacation week."

McCaffrey leads the NFL with 1,459 yards rushing and 2,023 receiving yards and is tied with Miami's Raheem Mostert for the most touchdowns with 21.

Elijah Mitchell will take over the starting running back role this week against the Rams. Mitchell had 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Commanders in his most extensive action of the season.

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Shanahan said he hasn't decided yet whether he'll rest any healthy players, including quarterback Brock Purdy, for the finale as San Francisco has nothing at stake against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

"It's a really hard thing to do and it's not always the best thing to do," Shanahan said of giving players a week off. "So, we'll take everything into account, but it's still something we'll continue to talk about today and tomorrow."

In other injury news, starting cornerback Embree Thomas will have surgery on a broken hand Tuesday, but he'll likely be back for the playoff opener.

San Francisco will get receiver and return specialist Ray-Ray-McCloud back at practice this week after a stint on injured reserve. McCloud has missed the last five games due to injured ribs.

Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot, knee), tight end Ross Dwelley (ankle) and safety G'Iyer Brown (knee) are expected to miss this week to give them more time to recover.

Receiver Jauan Jennings and offensive lineman Jaylon Moore remain in the concussion protocol.

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