SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Christian McCaffrey is ready to make good on his promise to play in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Whether the 49ers will also have Elijah Mitchell available to share the load remains to be seen.
McCaffrey was removed from the injury report entirely and coach Kyle Shanahan said he was “full go” during practice Friday before the 49ers’ team charter departed for Philadelphia
McCaffrey said Thursday there was “zero” chance he would miss the title game with a calf injury, was going through the paces during the media window Thursday.
Mitchell was listed as questionable along with cornerback Ambry Thomas (ankle). Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) was ruled out as expected.
Although it’s unusual for players to miss an entire week of practice and then play on Sunday, Mitchell could still wind up being a power-running complementary back for McCaffrey depending on how he feels.
“He’s a violent runner. We started calling him Drano because he always goes to the right hole, but we also call him the trash man too because when he’s out there it sounds like trash cans are banging together,” Shanahan said.
As a rookie sixth-round pick, Mitchell missed five full games and parts of others due to various injuries and still set a club rookie rushing record with 963 yards.
Mitchell has played in five games this season and has had two stints on the injured reserve list with MCL strains. He is the 49ers’ third-leading rusher with 279 yards behind McCaffrey (746 yards) and Jeff Wilson, who had 468 yards before being traded to Miami.
Against Dallas in the divisional playoff, Mitchell had 14 carries for 51 yards. He also caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Brock Purdy in the wild card win over Seattle.
If Mitchell doesn’t play, then undrafted free agent Jordan Mason, who gained 258 yards this season, would could step into the No. 2 spot behind McCaffrey in a game in which the 49ers hope to control with their ground game.
Purdy’s final thoughts
As much as quarterback Brock Purdy tells himself to approach Sunday as another football game, he realizes the stakes make it different.
“I feel like for the most part we’ve done a good job of keeping it simple in terms of preparation and game-planning and going to practice,” Purdy said Friday. “It’s the moments between practice or before you go to bed, thinking about the opportunity we have.
“You can say it’s just another game but there’s a lot on the line. All of our goals and dreams are right in front of us. You want to do everything you can to accomplish that. So it’s a little different.”
Winning would be an especially big deal for Purdy, who hails from Queens Creek, Ariz., and attended Gilbert High. The Super Bowl is in Glendale, Ariz., and there is a pro-Purdy community that is eagerly anticipating their favorite son playing in the biggest game.
“It’s all cool and stuff to appreciate where I’ve come from, which is awesome and I appreciate everyone,” Purdy said. “But for me and my family, we’ve got another game in front of us to handle and all the other stuff will fall into place.”
Ryans to Texans?
A day after a report DeMeco Ryans is the Denver Broncos’ top candidate for their head coaching vacancy, Friday brought news that he is also the Houston Texans’ preferred choice, the NFL Network reported. Ryans was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year with the 2006 Houston Texans, and he played six seasons with that franchise before finishing with four years on the Eagles.
Ryans interviewed last week with the Broncos and Texans, and further interviews can’t take place until Monday if the 49ers advance to the Super Bowl. Shanahan said the 49ers have been kept abreast of what’s happening.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea. He lets us know,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think any decisions have been made. I just know he has this opportunity.”
Shanahan said Ryans has balanced the interview process with his job running the 49er defense.
“He’s been great. He’s really enjoyed this time,” Shanahan said. “He’s done a hell of a job in those two games. He hasn’t missed a beat in terms of preparation. He enjoyed getting those interviews in his off time and this week has been all about work.”