SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Malcolm Smith was limited in practice Thursday, casting his availability for the 49ers’ season opener into question.
Smith missed all of last season with a torn pectoral sustained before the team’s first preseason game. He played in just six snaps for the 49ers in the first exhibition game this summer before exiting with a hamstring strain.
While defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said prior to practice Thursday that Smith “looks good for game day,” a source indicated his availability for the opener Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings does not appear to be a sure thing.
Brock Coyle could get the nod to start at the weakside linebacker spot if Smith is unable to play.
Rookie Fred Warner will start at middle linebacker, a position that relays the defensive signals from the coaching staff to the huddle. Saleh said it is a role that is not too big for Warner.
“He was one of, if not the smartest interviews I’ve ever had personally at the combine for a linebacker,” Saleh said. “He’s picked it up well. He’s got great command of it. He’s got a long way to go. I don’t want to crown him quite yet, but he’s a rookie, he’s going to have his peaks and valleys, but we have great confidence in him.”
Defensive back Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and offensive tackle Garry Gilliam took part in full practice on Thursday. Both players will be available for Sunday’s game.
Thursday’s Injury Report
Did not practice
T Erik Magnuson (hamstring)
LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring)
T Garry Gilliam (concussion)
DB Jimmie Ward (quadricep)
Did not practice
RB Roc Thomas (ankle)
CB Mackensie Alexander (ankle)
T Aviante Collins (elbow)
C Pat Elflein (ankle, shoulder)
T Riley Reiff (foot)
CB Xavier Rhodes (hamstring)
WR Stacy Coley (groin)
CB Marcus Sherels (hamstring)
This Sunday, be sure to watch 49ers Pregame Live at 9 a.m. and 49ers Postgame Live immediately after the game on NBC Sports Bay Area and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. Greg Papa, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt will have everything you need to know from the 49ers’ season opener.