Some injured 49ers returning to practice
The 49ers had a few welcomed faces return to practice Wednesday as the week of preparation for the New Orleans Saints began in Florida.
Richard Sherman was on the field after leaving Sunday's loss in Baltimore with a painful knee injury. He was listed as a limited participant.
“We did some Mr. Miyagi stuff on him,” Kyle Shanahan joked, referencing the karate master from the movie, “The Karate Kid.”
“We'll see, though. Sherm always battles. You expect him to be out there. Hopefully he'll get better each day. I know he's not there all the way yet,” Shanahan said.
Additionally, left tackle Joe Staley (limited, finger), pass rusher Dee Ford (limited, hamstring and knee), and running back Matt Breida (full participation, ankle) were all in uniform and are trending toward playing in Sunday's pivotal showdown after missing multiple games.
Sherman wasn't noticeably hindered by the injury after having a pronounced limp in the locker room Sunday. Staley practiced with a small brace protecting his right ring finger that was dislocated and fractured in the Nov. 11 loss to Seattle. Breida appeared full speed after missing the last three games and was close to playing against the Ravens.
“We got a number of guys back. They looked good out there today,” Shanahan said afterward. “We're still working through it. It's been a while for some of them, but hopefully we can keep that going week by week here towards the end (of the season).”
Ford's possible return after a two-week absence could provide San Francisco's defense a boost against Drew Brees and the Saints' offense that passes at the highest rate in the league, particularly as Saints left tackle Terron Armstead deals with an ankle injury sustained in the Nov. 24 victory over the Carolina Panthers. New Orleans will likely be without left guard Andrus Peat, a former first-round draft pick from Stanford, who broke his forearm last month.
The 49ers who did not practice were safety Jaquiski Tartt (rib fracture), receiver Dante Pettis (knee sprain) and defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow). Pettis was doing rehab work on a side field after spraining his knee during practice last week. Taylor was seen with a heavy wrap on his right elbow and wrist.
San Francisco is spending this week practicing at IMG Academy in Bradenton, roughly an hour south of Tampa Bay, to save travel time before heading to New Orleans on Friday. The team is using three practice fields at IMG's expansive facility - and will use their 5,000-seat football stadium for their final walkthrough of the week - before getting on a plane for the hour-and-45-minute flight.
Shanahan noted the energy at practice was high coming off the team's second loss of the season. And with the conditions approaching 70 degrees after cold and rainy weather in the Bay Area and Baltimore, the team welcomed the warmth of Bradenton.
“We're in a beautiful place,” tight end George Kittle said. “We're just having a good time and the facilities are fantastic.”
49ers re-sign Exum
Because of the injury to Tartt, the 49ers on Wednesday re-signed safety Antone Exum Jr., who was on the active roster for three games early in the season after appearing in 15 games with the team in 2018. He originally signed with San Francisco in Nov. 2017 after spending his first two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He was given a one-year contract.
The 49ers earlier this week signed receiver Chris Thompson to the practice squad and released offensive lineman Will Holden off the practice squad. Thompson, 25, had two separate weeklong stints with San Francisco in August.