The 49ers received encouraging news Friday with the return of pass rusher Dee Ford to the practice field after missing Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions due to knee tendinitis.
Ford on Friday was listed as questionable for Sunday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, though the team sounds optimistic he’ll play.
“Hopefully he’ll be feeling good on Sunday,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I know he wasn’t able to (practice) this week, today it was the plan for him to go, which I know he was going to go out there and battle through it, but we took it all to walk through to rest the guys with how hard they went the two days before. So he said he felt good.”
Ford, of course, missed most of training camp and the entire preseason to treat the tendinitis he said he dealt with throughout his playing career. He received platelet-rich plasma injections last month as the team hoped he would be pain free during the regular season.
The team’s handling of Ford this week was similar to Nick Bosa a week ago. The rookie missed two practices while recovering from ankle soreness stemming from his high ankle sprain in early August.
Ford appeared to tweak his left knee during a pass rushing snap in last week’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He left the game at halftime. The former Kansas City Chief logged his first sack and forced fumble in season opening win over the Buccaneers.
“I know he’s feeling better now than he has the last few days, but he’s still not fully there yet,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see how these next 48 hours go. Hopefully they go well. If it does, I know he’s confident to go out there, especially with the time we’re going to get off the following week.”
Defensive back Jimmie Ward is also listed as questionable after practicing the entire week with a cast on his right hand protecting his surgically repaired ring finger. Same for strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a toe injury. Bosa is listed as questionable, though he said this week he feels better heading into Sunday than he did in Cincinnati.
As expected, the 49ers ruled out Joe Staley (fractured fibula), running back Tevin Coleman (left high-ankle sprain) and receiver Jalen Hurd (back tightness).
49ers hopeful Taylor can return after setback
Slot receiver Trent Taylor on Friday was placed on injured reserve after suffering a setback with his surgically repaired right foot.
At his locker on Friday, a noticeably dispirited Taylor said it wasn’t the Jones fracture that was causing problems. There were soft-tissue concerns around the bone that didn’t respond well as he tried ramping up his rehab in recent days.
Taylor had a uninspiring 2018 campaign while dealing with complications from back surgery the previous spring. He was fully healthy this offseason and received widely positive reviews for his work in training camp as Jimmy Garoppolo’s go-to target.
“He was having the best camp of anyone on our offense,” Shanahan said. “That’s why it was real unfortunate for him. Hopefully this will heal up because I know the work he’s put in. I know he’s down about it, but hopefully we are giving him some good reasons to come back and help us out in Week 8 or eight weeks from now.”
The 49ers are planning to have Taylor back later this season. He’ll first be eligible for the Week 11 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Taylor said he’ll use the time to make sure the foot fully heals instead of trying to rush to get back quickly which may have contributed to the setback.
Taylor was asked about his mindset while dealing with the injury.
“I just got to keep working at it, the way that I was working all offseason,” he said. “I’m just not going to be able to show it as soon as I want to. As long as I keep working the way I’ve been working, I’m confident I’ll come back and be a difference maker.”
▪ The 49ers’ initial belief is Staley’s fractured fibula is a six-week injury, which is why he wasn’t placed on injured reserve, which would have forced him to miss eight weeks.
“That’s what we’re hoping,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got it all estimated around that six-week area. But, it’s just an estimate. But, the chance that it’s got to be less than two weeks, that’s why we’re not putting him on IR.”
The news means Staley could return as soon as late November. The 49ers host the Carolina Panthers Oct. 27 and have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game on the road in Arizona on Halloween four days later. Rookie sixth-round pick Justin Skule is expected to replace Staley in the meantime, barring an unforeseen trade.
The 49ers added depth at tackle by bringing back Sam Young, who was released from the team during final cuts.