SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As they enter a critical two-game stretch against top NFC West Division foes, the San Francisco 49ers are set to welcome back some key reinforcements.
When the Niners begin preparation for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, they will have tight end George Kittle, kicker Robbie Gould and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. back on the practice field.
According to San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, the Niners will open the practice window for Kittle (calf), Gould (groin) and Wilson (knee), all of whom have been on injured reserve, on Wednesday. Once that window is open, the team has three weeks to activate the player to the 53-man roster.
While opening the practice window for Kittle, Gould and Wilson is a step in the right direction, it’s no guarantee that they will be ready to play against the Cardinals. Kittle and Gould should have a chance to return this week, though Wilson might take some more time because he has been out since May with a torn meniscus.
“It will be his first time playing football in a long time, so I don’t know if he’ll be ready to go this week, but at least we know he’ll be coming back soon, too,” Shanahan said.
The 49ers are also close to getting linebacker Dre Greenlaw back from a core muscle injury he suffered in a Week 1 win against the Detroit Lions. Shanahan said the team is hopeful Greenlaw’s practice window will also be opened Wednesday, but is “still not sure.”
Two other Niners who could return this week are defensive end Dee Ford and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, both of whom missed Sunday’s win against the Chicago Bears with concussions. They were close enough to playing in that game that they traveled with the team to Chicago, and Shanahan is optimistic they’ll be cleared in time for Wednesday’s practice.
In less promising injury news, Niners running back Elijah Mitchell will be limited at practice Wednesday as he deals with a rib injury. And free safety Jimmie Ward’s status is even more tenuous as he recovers from what Shanahan called a Grade 1 quadriceps strain.
“[It will be] one to two weeks,” Shanahan said of Ward’s injury. “Outside chance of this week but not real optimistic about it.”
Left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) and receiver Deebo Samuel (calf) made it through the win against the Bears OK, but the Niners will continue to monitor them this week, Shanahan said.