SANTA CLARA -- Kwon Alexander has gone through more than two weeks of 49ers practice after returning from a pectoral injury earlier than anyone expected.
The linebacker was worn a blue non-contact jersey the entire time since being designated to return from injured reserve.
Alexander finally took it off last week for the divisional-round playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The tackling machine didn’t show up in the stat sheet but was no worse for the wear heading into Sunday’s NFC Championship game against Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium.
Even six days after his first career playoff game, Alexander didn’t want to address how -- or if -- he felt better, stronger or faster.
“We feel legendary every week,” Alexander said Friday. “We all come to work with no doubts in our body about how we’re going to perform.”
That, more than anything else in his current state, shows his value to this 49ers team. He’ll never say it, but he’s not at full strength. That would be impossible so soon after a major injury many initially thought might end his season.
Alexander’s positivity is palpable in everything he says and how he acts around the team.
“It’s extremely real with Kwon,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “He’s like that every second, and our guys gravitate to him. I think just the same way fans feel about him, that’s how we feel about him. Kwon is ride or die in everything he does for this football team. He will go out there, he plays that way when he’s healthy, he plays that way when he’s hurt. He talks that way. He lives football. That’s why his football character is one of the highest I’ve been around. That’s just his character as a man, to me, is just that way too.”
The team loves Alexander’s energy, and he appreciates how much they have supported him through a trying first season in Santa Clara. He signed a four-year deal in free agency, but Alexander played in just eight regular-season games due to the aforementioned injury.
“The people in this building are so great,” Alexander said. “They all really care for me. That was a big part of my decision to come, to be around people who care for you. I think really think we can do great things around here.”
The 49ers played great against the Vikings, even though Alexander didn’t have a tangibly productive day.
He didn’t have tackle and missed a few last week against the Vikings, per Pro Football Focus, but he could be felt on film while working as a strongside linebacker. He came out in sub packages, with Dre Greenlaw manning the weak side. The rookie has done that since Alexander got hurt and has fared extremely well.
Shanahan was predictably non-committal about specific roles earlier in the week, but they could well stay the same. Alexander doesn’t seem to care. He’s just happy to be playing with his teammates on such a big stage.
“As long as we keep flying around and making plays, we’re going to be alright,” Alexander said. “That’s for sure.”
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.