Khalil Mack out for 49ers game Sunday
The Bears pass rusher has been battling a foot injury for five weeks. Offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson is expected to start, and safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) and kick returner Jakeem Grant (ankle) are questionable.
Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack will miss the game against the 49ers on Sunday because of a sprained left foot. The loss of the four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher was mitigated by the return of Robert Quinn, who was activated off the reserve/-COVID-19 list Friday.
Mack, who leads the Bears with seven sacks (including one on a two-point conversion against the Raiders), has been battling through the foot injury the last five weeks. He has practiced only three times in that span — all on a limited basis on Fridays — but still played against the Lions, Raiders, Packers and Buccaneers.
But the injury affected him more last week than in previous games. He did not have a sack against the Bucs last week — his first game without a sack since Week 1.
The possibility remains that Mack could go on injured reserve, which would mean a minimum three-game absence. But coach Matt Nagy said the team has not made that decision yet.
Mack has played through injuries throughout his four-year Bears career, missing only two games in 2018 with an ankle injury. He has played in 122 of 124 games in his eight-year NFL career. But at 30, the wear-and-tear risk becomes greater, and the Bears are addressing that concern.
“He’s had a couple of weeks there where he’s not been able to practice, but he’s been able to strap it up on Sunday and do a lot of great things,” Nagy said. “The want is there, but we’ve got to sometimes protect Khalil from himself, and that’s where we’re at right now.”
Quinn’s return at least gives the Bears a proven pass rusher against the 49ers. With 5½ sacks in six games after getting only two in 15 games last season, Quinn has been one of the Bears’ best defenders.
Right tackle Elijah Wilkinson also was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list and is expected to start against the 49ers.
Wilkinson, who replaced injured starter Germain Ifedi against the Packers on Oct. 17, was put on the COVID list just before the game against the Bucs. Lachavious Simmons replaced him but was in turn replaced by Alex Bars in the second quarter after allowing two sacks.
Ifedi, who has been on injured reserve since Oct. 13, was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
Tight end Jimmy Graham and Ifedi are the only players on the COVID list. Linebacker Caleb Johnson was activated from the list Thursday.
Safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) and kick returner Jakeem Grant (ankle) are questionable. Gipson did not play against the Buccaneers.