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Linebacker NaVorro Bowman could begin practicing this week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh suggested Monday at his weekly press conference.
The All-Pro inside linebacker is currently on the team’s physically-unable-to-perform list. The latest a player can return to practice from the PUP list is the day after the Week 11 games. But Bowman has made enough progress that he could return to the practice field this week.
“Yeah, we’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “He has been doing some cutting and cutting pretty darn well. So, we’ll see. Tomorrow will be a big day and we’ll see if that window gets open to start practicing.”
After the players’ day off on Monday, following the 49ers’ 27-24 overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints, the team returns to work on Tuesday. Their first full practice of the week will take place on Wednesday as they prepare to face the New York Giants on Sunday.
Once Bowman begins practicing, the 49ers have a 21-day window during which time they can activate him to the 53-man roster.
Bowman was seen working at nearly full speed as he mirrored the side-to-side movements of Kurt Schmidt, the 49ers’ strength, nutrition and conditioning assistant.
One player the 49ers know will be back at practice this week is Aldon Smith, who served his nine-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.
I understand he’s eligible to play and to practice,” Harbaugh said. “Very much look forward to that. There’s consequences for our actions – good and bad. Good consequences for good action. And there’s accountability. He has served that. He has done that. Look forward to moving forward in a fresh, clean slate. That’s what I anticipate and look forward to.”
Harbaugh was not ready to speculate on what kind of role Smith will have upon his return in Sunday’s game.
”We’re not ready to jump to that,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not ready to jump to predict that or answer that question. Excited to have him back playing football, with the team. I think that’s where the hope, the excitement lies right now.”