Prime-time flex could benefit several injured 49ers on Sunday

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As the 49ers prepare for what could be the hardest late-season three-game gauntlet in the Super Bowl era, they could be without several key players for Sunday night’s visit from the Packers.

The following players missed practice on Wednesday, and coach Kyle Shanahan characterized them as game-time decisions for the game that was flexed to prime time: Running back Matt Breida, defensive lineman Dee Ford, kicker Robbie Gould, tight end George Kittle, receiver Deebo Samuel, receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and tackle Joe Staley.

As to Kittle, who has missed two games with knee and ankle injuries, Shanahan said that the tight end’s health is “[b]etter than last week, but not good enough to practice today.”

Whether it’s Kittle or the other players who will be game-time decisions, Shanahan explained that the decision to move the game to prime-time could actually make a difference.

“When you have a lot of guys that are banged up, the later [the game] can be the better,” Shanahan said. “I think it’s a little harder to get going early in the morning. If it was an East Coast Monday night game, that’d probably be the best except I wouldn’t want to travel and be on the road, but the longer our guys can have the better. Our guys need it right now.”

The definitely need it, with a trio of currently 8-2 teams on deck: The Packers, the Ravens, and the Saints.