San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5 players to watch
49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh typically doesn’t disclose the status of injured players.
But he had no problem revealing the team’s top draft pick, defensive end Nick Bosa, is expected to make his debut Week 1 on Sunday after dealing with a high right ankle sprain the past month.
“Nick, he’s going,” Saleh smirked. “He should be.”
Bosa has been vigilant in his rehab ever since it happened, when an offensive lineman fell into his leg during a running play Aug. 7. He returned to the practice field this week and appears to be close to full speed during individual periods open to reporters.
“Bosa’s looked good so far,” Saleh said. “Obviously we’re monitoring his reps and all that stuff, so he’s progressing. He feels good and especially with these days leading up are going to be critical for him with rehab and solidifying everything for game day.”
Bosa was expecting Thursday to be his most intense practice of the week before Friday’s truncated session before the team gets on a plane for Tampa Bay. The 49ers were in pads and shorts Thursday to prepare for quarterback Jameis Winston running new coach Bruce Arians’ offense.
“Just started at like 10 reps (during Monday’s practice) and adding a couple each day,” Bosa said. “Today we had a lot more. So it’ll be some actual one-on-one type reps. So that’ll be good for me to just feel that.”
A hurdle for Bosa is dealing with soreness after practicing, but he indicated the ankle is healed to the point of giving him a chance at playing most of Sunday’s game.
“It’s a little sore after the practice, but I was happy with how it felt after the (following) morning,” he said. “Usually it’d be a little sore in the morning, but it felt really good.”
A key question for Bosa is his conditioning given he hasn’t practiced extensively prior to this week. His injury kept out the entire preseason after he missed most of the offseason program with a minor hamstring injury.
“I’ve been running a lot,” Bosa said. “It’s been a year of training. So I’ve been keeping my body right pretty good. I think conditioning won’t be an issue. It’ll be different obviously. I’ll be playing a lot more snaps usually then I would in college. I’ll have to adjust to that. ... Once you get that adrenaline going, it’s usually pretty good.”
Bosa hasn’t appeared in a game since last September with Ohio State when he sustained a core muscle injury and decided to sit out the rest of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft. The buildup to Sunday’s game has been weighing on his mind given all the time off.
“Whenever I think about an actual third down in the game, I get kinda excited already,” he said. “But, it’ll build up towards game day. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep my emotions in check but it’ll be a lot for the first time.”
Bosa, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native, was asked about dealing with the humidity in his home state. The expected temperature Sunday at Raymond James Stadium is expected to be in the low 90s with 70 percent humidity.
“You can’t avoid it,” he said. “Just hydrate. Don’t pour water on yourself because if you do, you’re going to have soggy shoes. You’ll probably get soggy shoes anyway, but definitely don’t be pouring water on your neck or anything.”
Bosa might be wearing a pair of Jordan Brand cleats courtesy of his quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. They might be a touch small, Bosa said. They’re size 12.5 and he normally wears a 14.
Receiver Dante Pettis was listed as a full participant after a groin injury caused him to be a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice. Pettis first missed time with the injury following the third preseason game in Kansas City, but returned to action this week.
Jimmie Ward (hand/fractured finger) and receivers Trent Taylor (foot) and Jalen Hurd (back) did not practice. The two wideouts are not expected to play Sunday while Ward’s status remains up in the air.
Ward suffered his injury Wednesday and the team first called it a fractured finger. The training staff diagnosed it as a hand injury on Thursday’s practice report.
Limited in practice Thursday: Bosa (ankle), center Weston Richburg (knee), cornerbacks Jason Verrett (ankle) and K’Waun Williams (knee).
Sherman preparing for the heat
The 49ers have continued to use a tent near their practice field that’s been designed to replicate the heat for Sunday’s game.
“I’ve used the tent,” Richard Sherman. “If it’s that hot out there (in Tampa), then they have the devil somewhere. It’s ridiculously hot in that tent. But I’ve done my best. The science says it should help us recover quicker. Hopefully it works, otherwise we spent time in a sauna that we didn’t need to.”
Fortunately for San Francisco, the Buccaneers plan to wear their home red uniforms allowing the 49ers to wear their typical road whites. Dark uniforms, of course, attract heat, which is why the Buccaneers wore their white unis when the two teams played last November.