Tight end George Kittle returned to the practice field on Thursday, a sign he could also return to the 49ers’ lineup Sunday night to face the Green Bay Packers.
Kittle has not practiced since sustaining left knee and ankle injuries on Oct. 31 against the Arizona Cardinals. On Thursday at practice, he wore a blue jersey, signifying that he was off-limits for physical contact.
Practice began for the 49ers at 12:10 p.m., and Kittle was expected to be limited during the 90-minute on-field workout.
Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who experienced a shoulder injury on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, also was spotted at practice wearing a blue jersey. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders did not appear to be practicing, but he is expected to be available to face the Packers as he nurses a ribs injury.
Kittle, Sanders and Samuel are the 49ers’ top pass catchers, and their availability could be a huge boost for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo against the Packers.
Kittle leads the team with 46 receptions for 541 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. Samuel has 38 catches for 473 yards and one touchdown. In the three games since coming to the 49ers in a trade from the Denver Broncos, Sanders has 16 receptions for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Matt Breida (ankle) and defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) were among the 49ers going through rehabilitation work on a side field. Coach Kyle Shanahan said earlier this week he anticipates Ford missing multiple games due to his condition. Breida could be a game-time decision.