49ers Add 31-Year-Old Playoff Veteran Ahead of NFC Championship

Heading into the playoffs, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan made clear that he wanted to keep all his bases covered with veteran depth anchoring the bottom of the roster in the postseason. That showed with the addition of wide receiver Willie Snead, a 31-year-old veteran with nine years of experience, to the team’s roster on the eve of Sunday’s NFC Championship game.

Kyle Shanahan added Willie Snead to the roster ahead of the 49ers NFC Championship game matchup.

Snead was elevated from the practice squad ahead of the matchup against the Detroit Lions, with a Super Bowl trip on the line. He has been elevated five times throughout the season, and has appeared in four games, making two catches for 14 yards. In his career, Snead has played in six career playoff games, two for New Orleans and four for Baltimore.

Snead was with the 49ers for last year’s playoff run, but did not take the field. His last playoff game came with Baltimore in 2021, when he was a starter and caught a team-high five passes for 25 yards in a Ravens loss to Buffalo.

LB Also Elevated to 49ers NFC Championship Roster

Also elevated on Saturday for the tilt with the Lions was linebacker Curtis Robinson. The elevation of Robinson comes as linebacker Oren Burks is questionable for the game. Robinson is in his third season with the 49ers, and though he has not played much—he was in three games and made three tackles this season—San Francisco clearly likes him enough to keep him around.

It will be worth monitoring whether Burks can play on Sunday. He is the 49ers’ third linebacker behind Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner, and typically plays 12-20 snaps in a game. He played 20 against the Packers in last week’s playoff win. Shanahan said this week that Burks injured his shoulder in a practice collision.

On the opposite side, of special interest for the 49ers is the fact that the Lions did not elevate tight end Zach Ertz ahead of Sunday’s game. The Lions signed Ertz on Monday after an injury to tight end Brock Wright, and the expectation is that the former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ would be in the lineup. But the Lions will go with just two tight ends.

Last Year’s Playoff Problems Remain Fresh

The 49ers, remember, considered adding Ertz.

“When you have the opportunity, [when] a guy like Ertz is out there, you always take a look,” Lynch told KNBR radio in San Francisco last month. “We haven’t done anything yet. We’ll see where that goes. We’ll continue to monitor him as we do many other people that are out there.”

As for the 49ers’ injury status, Burks is the only concern now that Deebo Samuel has been cleared to play. Still, the elevation of Snead is an indication that Shanahan wants to be ready in case Samuel re-injured the shoulder that sent him off during the win over the Packers.

Shanahan has been cautious with how he has handled the practice squad, making sure there were veterans available to be added in a pinch. Little wonder, considering the way the 49ers’ postseason fell apart last year when quarterback Brock Purdy was injured and the team was left with Josh Johnson as its only option at quarterback.

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