SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After three weeks of disappointing injury issues, the San Francisco 49ers finally got some good news on the health front Wednesday.
The Niners opened Samuel’s window Wednesday morning, clearing him to return to practice for the first time since suffering a Jones fracture in his left foot in June. His return has been months in the making after he initially suffered the injury during a workout session with teammates in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Niners and Samuel had initially hoped Samuel would be ready for Week 1 but he had a small setback in side workouts and the team placed him on injured reserve before the opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
After spending the requisite three weeks on injured reserve, this is the first week Samuel has been eligible to return to practice. He has not yet been activated to the roster and the team will decide whether he will play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles later this week.
“He’s healthy so we just want to see him out there and get back in the swing of playing football,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I know it’s been a while since he has. I know he’s been working hard on his own and with our trainers. … We just need to see him go through three days and what type of shape he’s in and if he can protect himself, he’ll be out there.”
Kittle’s status appears more certain than Samuel’s, barring a setback. Kittle missed the past two games with a sprained left knee and though he practiced on a limited basis last week, he did not play against the Giants. But Kittle was a full participant Wednesday, albeit with some caution.
“We’ll always be smart with him,” Shanahan said. “We’re not gonna just throw him in with his normal reps and everything, but he’s full go. He’ll be involved in it all and I’m excited to see him out there going.”
On the other side of the injury coin, the Niners will still be without some prominent players at Wednesday’s practice. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (high right ankle sprain), running back Raheem Mostert (knee sprain), defensive end Dee Ford (back), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (quad), cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (concussion), tight end Jordan Reed (knee) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (hip) all appeared on the injury report with “did not participate” designations.
Shanahan said again that Reed and Ford are likely to go on injured reserve this week, and he indicated Monday that Greenlaw might not be able to play Sunday night. Garoppolo’s status is less clear, though Shanahan acknowledged he needed the quarterback to return to practice at some point this week in order to play in the game.
“He’s just got to be able to be healthy in terms of if he can run around and protect himself and make the throws,” Shanahan said. “Any time you’re dealing with an ankle, you might feel all right when you’re standing there but can you move around and get into awkward positions without hurting yourself? That’s really what we’d have to see. It would be tough for us to see that and truly judge that if he didn’t get into practice, so I’m hopeful he can get out there for at least one live period.”
In addition to opening Samuel’s practice window, the 49ers made a few other roster moves Wednesday. They officially placed linebacker Mark Nzeocha (strained quadriceps) on short-term injured reserve and waived long snapper Kyle Nelson. They also signed tight end Daniel Helm and long-snapper Taybor Pepper. Helm and Pepper take the roster spots vacated by Nzeocha and Nelson.