49ers' Kwon Alexander (torn pec) returns to practice

·Yahoo Sports Columnist

For the second time this week, a playoff team is getting one if its leaders back after an October torn pectoral injury.

The Houston Texans welcomed J.J. Watt on Wednesday, activating him to the 53-man roster from injured reserve in advance of Saturday’s wild card game against the Buffalo Bills.

On Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers opened the practice window for linebacker Kwon Alexander.

Bye-week boost

Alexander was a significant offseason signing for San Francisco; he agreed to a four-year contract as soon as free agency opened, a hot commodity even though he missed the last 10 games of the 2018 season due to a torn ACL.

San Francisco welcomed linebacker Kwon Alexander back to practice on Thursday. (Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)
San Francisco welcomed linebacker Kwon Alexander back to practice on Thursday. (Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

But he was ready to play at the start of the regular season for the 49ers, starting the first eight games before tearing a pectoral against the Arizona Cardinals on October 31.

Though he’d only played half the regular season, teammates were thrilled to see Alexander back for the bye week practice.

Rookie Nick Bosa said Alexander’s energy fuels the defense.

“That’s why they brought him here,” Bosa said, via The Athletic. “That’s why they paid him. I didn’t know — I started to learn early in the year how important he was. And then we lost him and everybody had to try and step up. But getting him back is going to be a boost for all of us.”

In the seven games Alexander finished, the 49ers allowed just 11 points and 224.4 yards per game and were 7-0. In the other nine games, they allowed 25.9 points and 326.4 yards per game and were 6-3.

Ahead of schedule

Alexander’s rehab and recovery was ahead of schedule, and he told reporters on Thursday that he had full range of motion four weeks after his surgery. He was at practice two days after surgery, and has been with the team every day since.

“I love the team, I love the game,” he said. “It’s hard to take me away from the game. It wasn’t my leg, it wasn’t an ACL or a knee. So I’m able to move around. And it didn’t hurt that bad after surgery. So I was able to get around, stay around my teammates, keep them hype. And keep this thing going.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan indicated that Alexander won’t play next week in the divisional round, but could be activated for the NFC championship if the 49ers advance.

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