Home Local NewsLocal SportsSan Francisco 49ers’ Arik Armstead clears hurdle, on track to return for playoffs

49ers’ Arik Armstead clears hurdle, on track to return for playoffs

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49ers defensive tackle Arik Armstead went through a workout, which cleared him to begin practice this week after missing the last five games of the regular season.

Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

Head coach Kyle Shanahan provided an encouraging update Tuesday on the stalwart defensive tackle who has been sidelined for more than a month with foot and knee injuries. Armstead will return to practice this week for the first time since Dec. 1 in preparation for the 49ers’ divisional playoff game on Jan. 20 or 21.

Shanahan indicated Armstead went through a workout Tuesday, which went well enough to provide clearance for him to practice. The 49ers will practice Thursday and Friday and take the weekend off during their first-round playoff bye.  

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“He’s doing better,” Shanahan said. “He looked good today. And that was the test. And that’s why we’re going to get him into practice Thursday and, hopefully, if it goes well, we’ll get him in a little bit Friday.”

Armstead, 30, had five sacks and 13 quarterback hits in 12 games this season while serving as a run-stopping force. The 49ers allowed 79.8 rushing yards and 3.9 yards a carry in Armstead’s 12 starts. They allowed 115.4 rushing yards and 4.6 yards a carry in the five games he missed.

Shanahan said Armstead would have played in last Sunday’s 21-20 loss to the Rams in the regular-season finale if the 49ers hadn’t already secured the NFC’s No. 1 seed.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws the ball as Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Byron Young (0) gives chase during the first half of their NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. The Rams defeated the 49ers 21-20.
San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator Steve Wilks during Los Angeles Rams’ 21-20 win in NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday, January 7, 2024.

“Hopefully, that extra week will give him enough time to ease back into this and make him even better a week from now,” Shanahan said.

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If Armstead returns, he will rejoin a defensive front that will be without Clelin Ferrell. The defensive end who had 3.5 sacks and 13 QB hits while making all 17 regular-season starts will miss a minimum of one playoff game due to a knee injury he suffered against the Rams. Chase Young and Randy Gregory, pass rushers the 49ers acquired in midseason trades, will likely assume larger workloads in Ferrell’s absence.

“It’s possible to get (Ferrell) back at some time in the playoffs,” Shanahan said.

In other injury news, wide receiver Jauan Jennings is no longer in the concussion protocol after missing the final two regular-season games, and cornerback Ambry Thomas (hand) and safeties Ji’Ayir Brown (knee) and Tashaun Gipson (quadriceps) are expected to return to practice this week. Practice squad safety Tayler Hawkins, who made his NFL debut against the Rams, suffered a wrist injury that requires surgery.

Running back Christian McCaffrey (calf) is expected to return to practice next week, and guard Jon Feliciano is day to day. Safety George Odum, an All-Pro special-teams player who suffered a torn biceps in November, will have his practice window opened this week. His return to practice indicates he could be activated from injured reserve during the postseason.

CB workout: Seeking a veteran cornerback for their practice squad, the 49ers worked out Casey Hayward, 34, a 2012 second-round pick with 118 career starts. Hayward hasn’t played in the NFL since October 2022 when he was with the Falcons.

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The 49ers worked out Hayward after practice squad cornerback Jason Verrett, 32, suffered a torn rotator cuff in practice last week.

Reach Eric Branch: ebranch@sfchronicle.com; Twitter: @Eric_Branch

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