49ers injury report: Joe Staley could return to practice this week


The return of 49ers left tackle Joe Staley could be coming sooner than later.

Staley sustained a fractured fibula in his left leg on Sept. 15 in the second half of the 49ers’ Week 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Staley was immediately given a six-to-eight week time frame for his return.

Staley could be available for limited practice as early as Wednesday when the 49ers begin preparations to face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. He has been pushing a weighted sled at the 49ers' practice facility and increasing his workout regimen with strength and conditioning coach Dustin Perry.

“I think he’s going to try to get out there and practice a little bit this week,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday. “We’ll see how it goes over these next two days. Just talking to him, I think these next two days are big, and we’ll see how he feels on Wednesday.

“I do think there’s an outside chance, but hopefully we can get him out on the practice field a little bit this week to where if he feels good and everything then he can go. But if not, at least he gets a little bit of work in because it’s going to be hard to get a real practice in the following week because of the Thursday night game vs. Arizona.”

Rookie Justin Skule has made four starts at left tackle in place of Staley. After the Week 8 game against Carolina, the 49ers have a quick turnaround to play Thursday, Oct. 31, at Arizona.

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Meanwhile, the 49ers are not as confident that cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon will make a push to play on Sunday. A week ago, Shanahan said he believed Witherspoon had a legitimate chance to play against the Panthers.

“Had a little bit of a setback last week, not big, but I think it’ll be pushing it this week,” Shanahan said. “There’s still an outside chance, but not as much as I felt last week.”

Witherspoon sustained a right foot sprain on Sept. 22 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was expected to miss at least a month. Emmanuel Moseley has taken over for Witherspoon and played very well in his first three NFL starts.

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