Offensive lineman David Baas, the team's expected starting right guard, came off the team's physically unable to perform list and participated in his first practice of 2008 on Monday afternoon.
Baas tore his pectoral muscle while lifting weights this off-season and underwent surgery the week of the NFL Draft in April. Since then, he's been diligently rehabbing, hoping to get ahead of schedule so that he could return to action prior to the 49ers regular season opener against Arizona.
"Of course it is frustrating when you are not on the field, but the best I could do was stay on top of my rehab and in my playbook," said Baas. "Every day I just worked my butt off because I wanted to get back earlier than the opener so I had some extra time to get my timing, my feet, and my hands down and have my brain fresh. I'm glad to get a start on that this week because it gives me more days in so that by the time Arizona rolls around I'm not missing a beat."
After working mostly in individual and team install periods on Monday, Baas plans to test things out full go in Tuesday's practice in pads.
"My arm held up fine today," said Baas. "We've got full pads tomorrow and so I'll bang it around and really test it and see how it feels. If it feels good, I can move on from there."
If all goes as planned, Baas could play up to a quarter this week against the Chargers.
"That's the plan. There's nothing like game speed, so I'd like to get in there and knock whatever rust I have off," said Baas.
Baas' arrival couldn't come too soon as the 49ers are currently missing starting right tackle Jonas Jennings (hand) and starting left guard Adam Snyder (ankle).
Rookie guard Brian de la Puente started last week in Chicago in place of Snyder, but the undrafted lineman out of Cal spent Monday on the sidelines with an arm injury.
In his absence, Tony Wragge shifted over to the left side and worked alongside tackle Joe Staley with rookie guard Chilo Rachal taking Wragge's spot at right guard with the first-team.
It would seem the move would eventually help get the 49ers with their most experienced lineup for Friday's game against the Chargers as if Baas can go, he'd likely move ahead of the rookie guard out of USC. But head coach Nolan indicated that Wragge at left guard might have only been a short term fix.
"Tomorrow it could be back with Tony at the other spot," indicated Nolan.
Wide receivers Arnaz Battle and Ashley Lelie took team reps after taking part in individual work on Saturday.
Battle came up with a few nice plays in the latter part of practice, catching a pass in the back of the end zone from Shaun Hill during red zone 7 on 7 work. He also snagged the ball on a quick slant route in traffic for an explosive gain during the team period.
Lelie also used a stutter-go move to get open deep, but J.T. O'Sullivan's pass sailed a few feet beyond the receiver.
Nolan said he's on the fence about keeping 5 or 6 receivers on the roster. He said the position is probably the most contested at this point of the preseason.
Safety Keith Lewis and receiver Josh Morgan missed Monday's practice due to an illness.
Returner Allen Rossum missed practice again after suffering a chest contusion in the Chicago game. Nolan has ruled Rossum out of action for the Chargers game. Robert Ortiz will handle punt returns, while Michael Robinson and Delanie Walker are expected to handle kickoff returns.
Robinson took part in the entire practice after returning to work on Saturday on a limited basis.
Wide receiver Bryant Johnson (hamstring), tackle Jonas Jennings (hand) and Adam Snyder (ankle) remain out with their injuries.
Lastly, Nolan indicated that the first-team units would likely play a series this Friday against San Diego, and that includes running back Frank Gore. Playing time could be increased for the offense if the first series was a short one.
Other Practice Highlights
Running back DeShaun Foster split out wide and caught a touchdown pass from Alex Smith during red zone 7 on 7 work. A play later, cornerback Donald Strickland showed his ball hawking skills by batting away a completion to Jason Hill.
During team, the 49ers ran a reverse on offense but cornerback Walt Harris and linebacker Jeff Ulbrich stayed discipline and stopped the play immediately.