49ers LB Kwon Alexander practices after torn pec

49ers LB Kwon Alexander practices after torn pec

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has often referred to the potential return of linebacker Kwon Alexander from a torn left pectoral muscle as a “longshot.”

On Thursday, that possibility became less far-fetched. Alexander was a surprise participant as the Niners practiced during their bye week. This opens his 21-day practice window after he was on injured reserve.

On Monday, Shanahan indicated that the possibility of a return for Alexander had grown more real but it would be more likely for a possible NFC Championship Game on Jan. 19 rather than the team’s first playoff game in the divisional round set for Jan. 11.

“He’s coming along,” Shanahan said. “There’s definitely going to be a chance. I don’t think that will be this week, but if we’re fortunate enough to win our first game, I think he could have a chance after that. We’re still holding out hope for that, but we’ll see how it goes over these next couple weeks.”

Alexander suffered the injury on Oct. 31 and went on injured reserve Nov. 5. League rules stipulate that before he could open his practice window, he had to be on that list for eight weeks. Now, the Niners have a three-week period in which they can bring him back to the active roster.

He can be activated at any point during that time as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Watt suffered the same injury four days before Alexander and returned to practice on Dec. 24. He was activated on Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday against the Buffalo Bills.

Earlier this season, the 49ers brought defensive lineman Kentavius Street back from injured reserve, which means if Alexander is activated, he’s the last player who could be brought back from injured reserve this season.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract on March 13, making him one of the league’s highest-paid linebackers. He quickly brought return on investment as one of the league’s better coverage linebackers and an emotional leader for the defense. In eight games, he had 34 tackles, an interception, four passes defended and a forced fumble.

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Author: ESPN
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