49ers to welcome back at least four starters from injury vs. Chiefs

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Friday, October 21, 2022

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For the first time this season, the San Francisco 49ers have a variety of good Friday news when it comes to injuries.

The Niners, who at the end of last week had 11 of a possible 22 offensive and defensive starters dealing with some type of injury, will welcome back at least four of those starters for Sunday's showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Defensive end Nick Bosa and left tackle Trent Williams headline the list as that duo has recovered from groin tightness and a high right ankle sprain, respectively, to participate in practice all week and be cleared to play. Bosa did not play last week against the Atlanta Falcons, and Williams has missed the past three games.

Defensive back Jimmie Ward (broken left hand) and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (calf) will join Bosa and Williams in returning against Kansas City. Williams' return comes a bit earlier than the originally projected four-to-six-week window, but he said this week he was feeling good after he used a scooter to stay off the ankle in the days after the injury.

"It didn't matter who we were playing this week," Williams said. "I was trying to get back. I know they said four to six [weeks] but my goal was to definitely not make it four or six."

Bosa said he actually first felt tightness in his groin in a win against the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 3. He played through it but then said he didn't "manage it as well as I could have" leading into the Oct. 9 win against the Carolina Panthers. Bosa left that game at halftime as the groin tightened up on him.

But Bosa was back at practice all week and said he was feeling back to normal.

"I feel really good," Bosa said. "I'm pretty optimistic."

Ward is the biggest surprise of any returning Niner after breaking his left hand against the Panthers. He had surgery two days later, and though Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said there was a chance Ward could return with a cast on his hand to play sooner than later, that seemed like it would be further away than just one game. Ward practiced this week with the club and noted its heft but also was thankful the injury wasn't a soft tissue injury to his lower body that would keep him out longer.

In addition, Ward poked fun at himself for his February comments aimed at Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce when Ward said he was looking forward to his chance to cover him.

"I've been talking a lot of smack, too," Ward said, laughing. "So, it's like dang, them boys are going to smell blood in the water. I'm going to be out there fighting. I've got to sink or swim."

McGlinchey suffered his injury last week against the Falcons but was able get through his situation this week. The Niners will also get reserve tight end Tyler Kroft back from a knee injury after he missed the past four games.

Two key pieces of the Niners' secondary -- cornerback Charvarius Ward and strong safety Talanoa Hufanga -- are listed as questionable for Sunday. Ward (groin) and Hufanga (concussion) participated on a limited basis in Friday's light practice, which gives them a chance to play against the Chiefs. Hufanga still must pass the final steps of concussion protocol to be cleared.

Of the injured Niners on the active roster, only defensive lineman Arik Armstead (foot, ankle) has been ruled out for this week.