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49ers practice: Top 10 observations as Week 1 practices begin

49ers practice: Top 10 observations as Week 1 practices begin

SANTA CLARA — An hour practice Monday kicked off the 49ers’ Week 1 activities after a three-day holiday weekend. Here are 10 observations:

1. STILL NO NICK

Defensive end Nick Bosa did not magically appear at practice only six days before the season opener at Pittsburgh. Bosa, amid contract negotiations, skipped training camp and all three preseason games, subjecting him to $4 million in fines that the 49ers are not expected to enforce. (P.S. No private-jet flights from his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to San Jose are on Monday’s docket, according to FlightAware.com).

2. PURDY DONE DE-LOADING

Quarterback Brock Purdy appeared fine and returned to his practice routine after last week’s “de-loading,” in which the 49ers wanted to cut his throws from 700 to 350 last week to freshen up his surgically repaired elbow.

3. GEORGE KITTLE ON SIDE

Tight end George Kittle did individual conditioning under the watchful eye of the 49ers’ medical staff rather than participate in practice. He’s missed most of the past month with a groin issue. He’s looked fine in terms of running straight ahead on the side, and he put on his helmet to do more work near a blocking sled. Kittle missed the first two games last season with a groin injury.

#49ers Week 1 practices underway

No Bosa

QB Brock Purdy done de-loading

George Kittle works on side as are Tashaun Gipson, Oren Burks, Jordan Mason, Danny Gray (IR)

LB Dre Greenlaw, S Talanoa Hufanga back in practice

Matthew Wright & Jake Moody (not in uni) both kicking pic.twitter.com/KB1YkjOAjH

— Cam Inman (@CamInman) September 4, 2023

4. GREENLAW, HUF RETURN

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw (hamstring) and safety Talanoa Hufanga (knee) suited up and returned to practice after sitting out last week’s sessions. One starter who remains out, however, is strong safety Tashaun Gipson Sr., who continues to run on the side with an unknown ailment.

5. DUAL KICKERS

Rookie Jake Moody kicked on a side field and did so without any visible hindrance from a right quadriceps strain that sidelined him for the preseason finale. Moody was not in uniform, however, unlike Matthew Wright, who was kicking next to him after officially signing to the 49ers’ practice squad Monday.

6. DEFENSIVE LINE LOOK

Nothing looks radically different on the defensive line rotation, simply because Bosa has yet to report other than a one-day minicamp cameo since winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. If there’s no Bosa, the expectation is that Drake Jackson and Clelin Ferrell would start at defensive end, with Kerry Hyder Jr. and Austin Bryant in reserve.

7. OTHERS REHABILITATING

Running on the side, along with Kittle and Gipson, were linebacker Oren Burks (knee), running back Jordan Mason (foot) and wide receiver Danny Gray (Injured Reserve; shoulder).

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8. PUNT RETURN OPTIONS

Ray-Ray McCloud has not practiced since last month’s wrist surgery, so it’s increasingly looking like rookie Ronnie Bell will serve as the season-opening punt returner. Brandon Aiyuk is experienced at that chore, but he hasn’t been seen much if at all in practices this year, since blossoming into a 1,000-yard, No. 1 receiver. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk has tried to return a few punts in practice as an emergency option.

9. OFFENSIVE LINE INTACT

This goes under the radar but it’s worth noting that the 49ers’ offensive line chemistry should be enhanced this year. Left tackle Trent Williams is the unit’s lynchpin, and working regularly to his right all offseason have been Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford and Colton McKivitz, the latter of whom has taken all first-team reps at right tackle since Mike McGlinchey’s free agency exit.

10. UNIFORM NUMBERS

Moody appears to have claimed the No. 4 jersey after sharing it in the preseason with third-string quarterback Brandon Allen, who’s now practicing in No. 17. Also, practice-squad defensive back Quantrezz Knight is wearing No. 9, which is what tight end Brayden Willis continues to wear.