If you had a feeling of déjà vu during the 49ers’ first game of the 2022 season, few would blame you.
For the second consecutive season, San Francisco lost its starting running back to a knee injury in Week 1. Elijah Mitchell (six carries, 41 yards) lasted longer this year than Raheem Mostert (two carries, 20 yards) did in 2021, but the 49ers still find themselves tapping into their backfield depth chart as the NFL calendar turns the page to Week 2.
Mitchell has been oft-injured during his brief NFL career, so seeing him exit early wasn’t shocking. Still, it could be a problem for the 49ers as they look to support Trey Lance in his first full season as a starter.
Mitchell is expected to miss time as a result of his injury. But how long will he be out? Here are the latest updates about his condition and when 49ers fans can expect him to return to the field in 2022.
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How long is Elijah Mitchell out?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Mitchell suffered a sprained MCL against the Bears and is expected to miss about two months.
If that timetable holds up, Mitchell could be expected to return after San Francisco’s bye week, for a Week 10 game against the Chargers on Nov. 13.
49ers’ RB Elijah Mitchell is expected to be sidelined about two months with the sprained MCL that he suffered Sunday at Chicago, per league sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 12, 2022
That prognosis obviously could change, but it appears Mitchell is set to miss a significant chunk of the season either way.
What is Elijah Mitchell’s injury?
Mitchell suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee during the 49ers’ 19-10 loss to the Bears in Week 1. The injury occurred after Mitchell broke a run up the middle and took a hard hit to the right knee from Chicago safety Eddie Jackson.
Mitchell’s knee bent slightly inward on the play, as you can see below.
#49ers running back Elijah Mitchell is likely heading for a multi-week absence after suffering a right knee injury on this play, according to the Pro Football Docs
— Sports Injury Central (@SICscore) September 11, 2022
After the hit, Mitchell left the game and was quickly ruled out by San Francisco’s medical staff. Jeff Wilson Jr., Deebo Samuel and Trey Lane handled most of the action after the top running back left the game.
Elijah Mitchell injury timeline
Mitchell’s injury occurred on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, during the 49ers’ game against the Bears. He took a hard hit to the knee and exited the contest as a result of it.
The 49ers vs. Bears game was played in stormy conditions, but it doesn’t appear that they had an impact on Mitchell’s injury. The 24-year-old running back simply took a big hit to the knee from Jackson and came up lame as a result of it.
Coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t have much information about Mitchell’s status after the game on Sunday. He say he wasn’t sure if the injury would be long-term or not.
“I know they said they thought he had a chance to come back, and then they ruled him out about a quarter later,” Shanahan said. “So, I’m not sure yet.”
An MRI on Monday, Sept. 12 reportedly revealed a sprained MCL, making it likely Mitchell lands on injured reserve.
Elijah Mitchell injury updates
Sept. 12: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Mitchell has a sprained medial collateral ligament and is expected to miss about two months, putting him in line to return to the field in mid-November.
Sept. 12: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Mitchell is expected to miss “some time” because of his knee injury, pending the result of an MRI. He had the imaging done Tuesday and should have a clearer timetable to return shortly.
Sept. 11: Kyle Shanahan declines to provide a concrete update on Mitchell, saying that the team “thought he had a chance to come back” before he was ruled out.
Sept. 11: Mitchell suffers an apparent knee injury in the first half of the 49ers’ 19-10 loss against the Bears. He exits the field and is quickly ruled out.