SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The banged-up San Francisco 49ers got some key pieces back on the practice field before their Super Bowl rematch against the Kansas City Chiefs.
All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, star edge rusher Nick Bosa and safety Jimmie Ward all returned to practice on Wednesday and could play Sunday against the Chiefs.
Williams missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain, and Bosa sat out last week with an injured groin. Ward has played only one defensive snap all season after being sidelined by a hamstring injury and then breaking his hand in his return two weeks ago.
"It’s always huge. Getting anybody back helps and especially getting those two guys back would be huge,” Shanahan said about Williams and Bosa.
Cornerback Jason Verrett also could return this week as he tries to come back from a knee injury that has sidelined him since last season.
The Niners were missing more than half of their starting defense in last weekend's 28-14 loss to Atlanta. They are hoping a healthier roster will help against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Bosa said he first felt the groin injury in Week 4 against the Rams but played the following week against Carolina. The injury got worse during that game and he came out and missed last weekend's loss.
But he was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.
“I feel really good,” Bosa said. “I got to get into the practice week and see how it feels. But I'm pretty optimistic about managing it.”
Bosa had six sacks in the first four games and is a key part of San Francisco's run defense with his ability to set the edge.
Ward is crucial to the Niners pass defense but has been out almost all season. He returned from his hamstring injury in Week 5 against Carolina but broke his hand covering the opening kickoff.
He stayed in the game for one more play before realizing he couldn't play through it. He had a club on his hand for practice and hopes to be able to play with it.
“It doesn’t feel great, but I’ll figure it out," he said. “I'm a tough guy. I’ve broke a lot of bones in this league.”
Ward knows the Chiefs will be looking for him, especially after talking earlier this year about how he looked forward to playing against Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce.
“I’ve been talking a lot of smack too so it’s going to be like dang, they're going to smell blood in the water," he said. "Going to be out there fighting. Sink or swim.”
Williams hurt his ankle in Week 3 but the Niners are hopeful he can return this week in a needed boost for the offense that failed to score in the second half last week.
San Francisco still has some injury concerns with several key players missing practice, including cornerback Charvarius Ward (groin), safety Talanoa Hufanga (concussion protocol), right tackle Mike McGlinchey (calf) and defensive end Samson Ebukam (Achilles).
Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot, ankle) is also out this week. The team's other starting defensive tackle, Javon Kinlaw, and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley went on injured reserve last week with knee injuries.
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