The 49ers received some good news Friday with the returns of cornerback Richard Sherman and running back Matt Breida to practice, which indicates they’re on track to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, though both are officially listed as questionable.
“It’s generally a good sign,” coach Kyle Shanahan said.
Sherman missed the previous game with a calf injury while Breida aggravated an ankle sprain in the first half that forced him to leave the contest.
Also listed as questionable is center Weston Richburg, who had played with knee pain since the first half of the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 30.
San Francisco will be without receiver Pierre Garçon, who was ruled out Saturday while he deals with knee and shoulder injuries.
Filling the void of Garçon’s absence will be rookie second-round draft pick Dante Pettis, who also suffered a knee injury against the Chargers during a first-quarter punt return and has missed the past three games. The former Washington receiver has just three catches, but they’ve been long ones, combining for 96 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown in the season opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The 49ers were without Breida for the final three quarters of their 28-18 loss to the Cardinals on Oct. 7. Since then, the team found a capable, speedy replacement in Raheem Mostert, who has 146 yards on 19 carries (7.7 average) the last two weeks. Breida still leads the NFL averaging 6.5 yards per rush.
Shanahan said early this week the team was considering shutting Breida down for a week after dealing with shoulder, knee and ankle issues throughout the last month. But Breida had a strong enough week of practice to be a game-time decision.
“I (put) a lot of thought into it,” Breida said of possibly giving himself a week to rest and get healthy. “Taking it day by day, seeing how the body’s feeling. (I’ll) do the same thing on game day.”
Sunday’s game will mark the team’s first since starting free safety Adrian Colbert went on injured reserve after suffering a right high ankle sprain last week. The team hasn’t said who will start in Colbert’s place between rookie D.J. Reed and Jimmie Ward, who would be transitioning from cornerback. Ward is expected to be healthy this weekend after missing the previous contest with a tweaked hamstring.
If Richburg doesn’t play, the 49ers could try right guard Mike Person or interior backup Erik Magnuson at center. Richburg being out could also lead to 2016 first-round draft pick Joshua Garnett being in uniform Sunday for the first time since Week 1, when he suffered a dislocated toe. Garnett has been a healthy scratch in recent weeks.