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Where 49ers stand on returns of Joe Staley, Ahkello Witherspoon and long snapper Kyle Nelson

© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers are 6-0 and set to return a cohort of key players in the coming weeks, though some of those returns may be extended by the tricky scheduling of the team’s Week 9 Thursday night game at the Arizona Cardinals on Halloween.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan provided updates on Joe Staley, Ahkello Witherspoon, long snapper Kyle Nelson and explained his appreciation at getting his father, Mike, the game ball from the 9-0 win over the Washington Redskins. He also clarified that both Matt Breida and Marquise Goodwin cleared concussion protocol.

Witherspoon had minor setback, Staley may practice this week

Shanahan said he’s not as positive on Witherspoon (right foot sprain) returning this week as he was last week. He was given a timeline of “at least a month” on the Monday after he was injured against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, with the four-week mark passing this Monday.

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

Staley, who has done on-field work with the 49ers before each of the previous two games, and has been seen doing rehab work on the 49ers’ side fields (including pushing a weighted sled with Mike McGlinchey), got a more positive update from Shanahan.

It seems he may practice this week, which would be just over five weeks since he fractured his left fibula against the Cincinnati Bengals. As of Monday, it’s been five weeks and a day since the fracture. He was given a timeline to return in six-to-eight weeks, meaning a return this week would be on the earliest end of that timeline.

“I think he’s gonna try to get out there and practice a little bit this week,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see how it goes over these next two days, just talking to him and 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 of on the practice field a little bit this week. Hopefully he feels good and everything and he can go, but if not at least he gets a little bit of work because it’s gonna be hard to get a real practice in the following week.

The long snapper hour: Kyle Nelson time?

One of the most bizarre storylines for the 49ers this season has been their roulette of long snappers. They began the season with Collin Holba, then cut him for the 38-year-old Jon Condo by Week 3, with Condo retiring the day after that win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That saw Garrison Sanborn signed, whose been the long snapper since. Sanborn, however, had noticeable issues in his first couple games, both on punts and on field goals.

With Kyle Nelson, who was suspended 10 games at the end of last season for PED use (with six games remaining at the start of this season), eligible to return this week, it could see Sanborn pushed out. Nelson was the long snapper with the Redskins in Shanahan’s final season there in 2013 and has been with the 49ers since 2014.

“Hoping to get him back,” Shanahan said. “I know we get a roster exemption for a week, but we should have him in here this week and decide what to do for Sunday.”

The Mike Shanahan game ball

George Kittle revealed on Sunday that the game ball would be going to Mike Shanahan, was fired by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, along with his staff, which included Kyle Shanahan, in 2013. There’s been bad blood between the Shanahans and Redskins (but mainly Snyder) since that point.

Kyle Shanahan said it was a plan that had been in the works for some time.

“That was something I had planned to do for a while, the reason I told the guys is because I was just very appreciative,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Those conditions and stuff, you can never use it as an excuse but since we won, I can at least bring it up that it is tough to go out there and it was our first 10 a.m. kickoff game this year and the weather coming into that stadium like that and ended up having six starters out, so had a lot of excuses to not go out there and play as hard as they did. But the way they played I was just very appreciative that the effort that they gave allowed me to do something that.”

The Shanahans have yet to talk on the phone, only exchanging texts after the game (Kyle Shanahan said it wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have in a public setting), though the excitement from both over the win was mutually understood without words.

“I didn’t have to talk to him to know that he was excited,” Kyle Shanahan said. “He didn’t have to talk to me to know I was excited, we knew it would feel good if we could get that done.”


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