49ers on Wednesday: Kittle, Wilson, Ford returning to practice; Samuel aggravated calf

SANTA CLARA — Tight end George Kittle was back in his No. 85 jersey, happily running routes with no sign of a calf injury that put him on hiatus a month ago.

Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. was taking handoffs the first time since undergoing meniscus surgery on his knee five months ago.

Even the 49ers currently injured players were looking good Wednesday, from Deebo Samuel (calf) and Elijah Mitchell (ribs) taking turns on an exercise bike to Trent Williams (ankle) walking from the locker room without any limp.

Yes, things sure do look rosier once you shed a four-game losing streak, which the 49ers (3-4) did Sunday in Chicago. Now they’ve moved on to prepare for a NFC West tilt at home this coming Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals (7-1).

Kittle’s return is especially timely to help shoulder an offensive load that’s largely been carried this season by Samuel, the NFC’s offensive player of the week for his 171-yard effort against the Bears. (Coach Kyle Shanahan expects Samuel and Mitchell to return to practice later this week.)

Kittle sustained a calf contusion in the season opener and played through it before missing the past three games on injured reserve.

“Hopefully this break helped him and he’ll have better luck once he gets back,” Shanahan said of Kittle.

Jimmy Garoppolo said of Kittle: “You could feel him. He’s got some fresh legs, so he’s looking fast. I’m excited to get him out there. Just another weapon for us, and we’ve got Jeff Wilson coming back, too.”

Kittle, Wilson and kicker Robbie Gould technically had their three-week practice window open for the 49ers to decide whether to activate them off injured reserve. Kittle and Gould are virtual locks to play Sunday while Wilson likely won’t be rushed back and have his debut delayed to Oct. 15 against the Rams.

MITCHELL HONORED, TOO

Mitchell (ribs) did not practice but could do so later this week, having been injured amid his third 100-yard game this season.

Mitchell (18 carries, 137 yards, one touchdown) did not grimace or show any breathing issues as he trained on the side Wednesday. Earlier,  he won the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week Award, as voted on by fans, and a $2,000 donation will be made in his name to a historically black college or university.

Garoppolo raved about the rookie and his mindest, saying: “When you’re in the huddle, you feel him. Doesn’t talk much but you feel presence and feel when he’s in a groove like that. You like to look at a guy in the eyes and know he’s ready.”

RUGGS CRASH FALLOUT

Shanahan talked to some players but not the entire team about the deadly crash as result of former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III’s alleged drunken and reckless driving.

“I talked to guys individually because it’s such a big deal, such a tragedy and such a sad thing to see,” Shanahan said. “We went through the draft process with him a year ago, and a lot of guys do know him.

“But anytime you see something like that, you have the same reaction that probably everyone else on the planet: It makes you sick to your stomach on both sides. It’s something that happens too much in this world. Everyone can not see enough lessons on that. Life can end very fast.”

GAROPPOLO ON HOT TOPICS

In light of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 and the revelation he is not vaccinated, quarterbacks around the league where asked of their status. Jimmy Garoppolo confirmed he is vaccinated, adding: “It’s unfortunate for Aaron.” (Six players around the NFL went on COVID-19 reserve, including Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green.)

Four years ago, the 49ers acquired Garoppolo in a trade, so he didn’t pretend to be oblivious to rumors of another potential deal the past seven months, since the 49ers moved up the draft board and ultimately took Trey Lance.

“Nothing really ever came up,” Garoppolo said. “I was aware of it like everybody. I’ve been traded last second before so I know how that goes. But nothing ever came up.” Instead, the trade deadline passed Tuesday, the same day as Garoppolo turned 30.

OTHER INJURY UPDATES

— Also out of practice were safety Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf).

— Defensive end Dee Ford and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair are cleared to return from concussions that kept them out last game.

— Linebacker Dre Greenlaw will remain on injured reserve this week and his practice window might be opened next week, after the 49ers opted not to rush his surgically repaired adductor.

— Safety Will Parks, wide receiver Austin Watkins Jr. and inebackers Tyrell Adams and Christian Elliss were added to the practice squad.

Parks has appeared in 72 games, including 66 with the Denver Broncos and six last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. With Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) likely out along side Jaquiski Tartt (knee; injured reserve), the 49ers need to pair rookie Talanoa Hufanga with a veteran, and while Tavon Wilson will likely be their other starting safety, the Parks and Tony Jefferson are options on the practice squad.

— Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu passed his physical and wore No. 59 to practice.

 

 

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