Left tackle Trent Williams returned to limited practice Thursday, an encouraging sign for the injury-ravaged 49ers.
One day earlier, coach Kyle Shanahan said he expected Williams to be questionable throughout the week due to an ankle sprain he sustained Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams.
With his appearance on the practice field, Williams appears to be on pace to be in the lineup to protect the blind side of Jimmy Garoppolo, who goes up against his former team.
The 49ers face the New England Patriots on Sunday in Foxboro, Mass.
The 49ers are not expected to have running back Raheem Mostert (ankle), linebacker Kwon Alexander (ankle) and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (groin) available for the game.
Marcell Harris is in line to play for Tartt. The 49ers could promote veteran Johnathan Cyprien from the practice squad to serve as insurance in Sunday's game.
The 49ers head into their Week 7 game already without two starters on offense and minus seven of their main players on defense, including nickel back K’Waun Williams.
This week, the 49ers placed center Ben Garland on injured reserve with a calf injury. Hroniss Grasu will move into the starting lineup in place of Garland.
The 49ers are expected to also place Mostert on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty will likely share the running back chores.
Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowl performer, played all but two snaps for the 49ers on Sunday night. Second-year player Justin Skule replaced Williams when he briefly left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a head injury. Williams was cleared to return to action.
Williams was diagnosed with an ankle injury on Monday. The sprain kept him out of practice on Wednesday.
Here is the 49ers' official report from Thursday's practice:
Did not practice
LB Kwon Alexander (ankle), RB Raheem Mostert (ankle), S Jaquiski Tartt (groin)
T Trent Williams (ankle), RB Jeffery Wilson (calf)
CB Dontae Johnson (groin)