By Sam McPherson
Heading into their Week 2 road game in Pittsburgh, the San Francisco 49ers were really healthy. However, that game took its toll on the 49ers' confidence and physical health. The team now has seven players with injury concerns in Week 3 as they prepare to take on the Arizona Cardinals on the road.
Two runnings backs are listed as questionable for Sunday: Reggie Bush (calf) and Bruce Ellington (ankle). Bush missed last week's game, and he still wasn't able to practice on Thursday. Since the former Heisman Trophy winner was injured early in the Week 1 victory over Minnesota at home, the team really hasn't seen him on the field much at all. That's a disappointment, considering the money spent on Bush as a free agent this season.
Ellington was limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday this week, and he may end up being a game-time decision on Sunday. With Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis and Jarryd Hayne healthy, Ellington may not be needed this week, anyway. Chances are he will get the day off against Arizona.
Vance McDonald limited in workouts
One more offensive player also limited in workouts this week was tight end Vance McDonald. He hurt his knee in Week 2 against the Steelers, and if he can't go Sunday, Garrett Celek will see more time as the team's No. 2 tight end behind Vernon Davis. Blake Bell (back) is listed as probable after participating fully in practices on Wednesday and Thursday. He will be the No. 3 tight end on Sunday against the always-tough Cardinals defense.
Speaking of defense, linebacker NaVarro Bowman is listed as probable despite missing workouts Wednesday for non-football reasons. He was a full participation in Thursday's practice, so there's no need to worry about his presence in the middle of the defense for Week 3.
Other players on the probable list for Sunday include the aforementioned Hyde (quadricep) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (knee). They are key parts of the offense, of course, and they are expected to play. Both players were full participants in workouts this week despite their ailments.
Hyde appeared to have his bell rung against Pittsburgh, but his leg was more of an issue post-game. The 49ers will need their running game to be effective like it was in Week 1 when Hyde ran free through the Minnesota defense. If Hyde is less than 100 percent against the Cardinals, it could be a long day for the offense and quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Smith had a solid game against the Steelers, although his fourth-quarter touchdown was relatively meaningless. The 49ers didn't need their passing game against the Vikings, but when they fell behind Pittsburgh early, Kaepernick couldn't do much until it was too late. If the S.F. offense needs to play from behind again against Arizona, Smith also will need to be at 100 percent for the 49ers to thrive in the air game.
Blake Bell, Tight End (back)
NaVarro Bowman, Linebacker (non-football related)
Carlos Hyde, Running Back (quadriceps)
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver (knee)
Reggie Bush, Running Back (calf)
Bruce Ellington, Running Back (ankle)
Vance McDonald, Tight End (knee)
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.
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