Great news for the San Francisco 49ers coming off of the intense battle in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks. Kyle Shanahan spoke with the media on Monday and reported that the team returned from CenturyLink Field unscathed. Jimmie Ward did leave the contest in what looked to be a rolled ankle, however returned to the game the following series. The team will get time off to rest and recover before regrouping ahead of the NFC Divisional Round on Saturday, Jan. 11.
One of the biggest questions heading into the postseason was the availability of Kwon Alexander. The linebacker suffered a torn pectoral in the Halloween night matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Alexander was expected to miss roughly six months following his surgery, however through his recent workouts, drew speculation that an early return could potentially be on the horizon. He was on hand in Seattle, warming up and catching passes on the field prior to the game, which points to signs that he is ahead of schedule and has the opportunity to make his 49ers postseason debut should the team reach the NFC Championship round.
"He's coming along," Shanahan said via a conference call. "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's return from Injured Reserve will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.
San Francisco looks to get back two key starters on the defense by the divisional round. Jaquiski Tartt missed his fourth-straight game on Sunday after suffering a rib injury in the Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. They've also been without free agent edge rusher Dee Ford the last three games who's recovering from a lingering hamstring injury. The 49ers noted Ford would more than likely be on track for a postseason return.
"I'm hoping for it and I am feeling optimistic about (Tartt and Ford's return)," Shanahan said. "You never know with how those things go with the ribs and with the hamstring, but that was the goal. We knew there could be a slight chance this week if we were playing this week, so getting this Bye week should make it an even better chance then."
The same goes for Mike Person. San Francisco's right guard dressed as a backup, however did not play in the 49ers last two contests with a sore neck. Shanahan also expects Person to return to the lineup next Saturday.
"Mike is good to go," Shanahan added. "He's battled through all his stuff. I think these two weeks of him not having to get in these games have helped him a lot. The issues he has aren't going to go away until after the season when he can take a couple months off. I think these two weeks have helped him. Getting another Bye week will help him a ton and we'll see how practice goes this week and next."
The week off couldn't have come at a better time for the 49ers to get healthy, as San Francisco has played 13-straight contests since their Week 4 Bye. The team should enter the divisional round the healthiest they've been since the first half of the season, a massive benefit of the Week 17 victory over Seattle.