McKivitz Could Start Sunday
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams is questionable for the NFC championship after missing practice all week with a sprained ankle.
The Niners survived his absence in a Week 18 win against the Rams when he couldn’t play with the elbow injury. Colton McKivitz stepped in for Williams and fared well against Los Angeles’ imposing front as San Francisco won 27-24 in overtime.
“The biggest thing is he stepped in for as good as a player that exists and we weren’t talking about him,” offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said. “We weren’t worried about him all game. As an offensive lineman, it’s kind of like referees at times, no news is good news. … If you want to have a heart attack, go line up against all their pass rushers and, oh yeah, do it for the first time that you’re playing all year. That’s a tough task.”
But if the Niners have to go without Williams that would be a big loss because of everything he does for the offense.
He even had a rare viral moment for an offensive lineman last week when he lined up as a tight end on a short-yardage play, went in motion and flattened two defenders to help covert a first down.
Shanahan said that’s a wrinkle to an old play that the Niners added recently, joking that he “can’t believe it’s legal” and it’s scary to watch a lineman as powerful as Williams get a running start heading into his block.
“I could hear the footsteps in Lambeau,” said tight end George Kittle, who added he was a beat slow getting off at the snap. “The next thing I know I’m getting a knife from the front side and then Trent Williams is blowing through that D gap. Next thing I know, I’m on the ground with 600 pounds on top of me. So yes, it’s a little frightening, but it is what it is, and it was a first down. So I’m going to accept it. Let’s just hand him off the ball one of these times, because I think I don’t know if anyone’s going to try to tackle him. It’s a fun play though.”
NOTES: The only other 49ers player with an injury designation is backup RB Jeff Wilson Jr., who is also questionable with an ankle injury. … The Niners left for Los Angeles on Friday night instead of Saturday like they would typically do on a short trip. Shanahan said some of the players asked to do that after the team had success the past two weeks leaving two days before road wins at Dallas and Green Bay.
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