49ers RB Elijah Mitchell to miss about 2 months with sprained MCL

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The San Francisco 49ers will be without Elijah Mitchell until November.

The running back sprained his MCL in the team’s season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and he’s expected to miss about two months recovering, the team confirmed on Monday afternoon.

"We're estimating about two months, eight weeks, give or take a few," coach Kyle Shanahan said, via ESPN. "So, hopefully, it goes well and it's earlier but you never know with those things, so that's what we're guessing."

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If Mitchell is out for two months, that means he will miss at least seven games for the 49ers. At best, he could return in time for their Nov. 13 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Mitchell left the 49ers’ 19-10 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field early in the second quarter, and did not return. It wasn't initially clear how Mitchell hurt his leg, but Shanahan confirmed the injury occurred after Bears safety Eddie Jackson tackled Mitchell directly in his knee early in the second quarter.

Mitchell stayed in the game for the rest of the drive, but he didn't return after that. He finished with 41 rushing yards on six carries.

The 24-year-old is in his second season in the league. He ran for a franchise rookie record 963 yards and five touchdowns last season with the 49ers, but only played in 11 games due to multiple injuries. Mitchell missed the preseason this fall, too, due to a hamstring injury.

"He was pretty down," Shanahan said, via ESPN. "For obvious reasons, we're down for him. Elijah went through a lot last year, it's well documented the injuries he had. He really worked hard this offseason. He was feeling really good going into that game and man, I thought he looked really good before he got hurt.

"And just unfortunate hit that he had. I just tried to tell him to keep his head up. Anybody who would have gotten caught in that situation would have gotten hurt with the way his foot planted in the ground and the guy hit his knee. I think we were just real fortunate it wasn't worse."

Despite their early 10-0 lead on a rainy Sunday in Chicago, the Bears rallied back after a pair of touchdown passes from Justin Fields and a 3-yard run from Khalil Herbert to take the nine-point win. Trey Lance finished with 164 yards and one interception, and he was the team’s leading rusher with 54 yards on 13 carries.

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell
Elijah Mitchell left the 49ers' loss to Chicago early in the second quarter, and didn't return. (Mike Dinov/USA Today)