The biggest — and most surprising — news out of Santa Clara on Thursday was seeing linebacker Kwon Alexander out on the practice field with his San Francisco 49ers teammates. The team announced that it has opened the practice window for the linebacker, thus opening up the possibility for a potential return for the playoffs.

Alexander suffered a torn pectoral muscle on October 31 against the Arizona Cardinals and five days later landed on injured reserve. While the linebacker was practicing on Thursday, he did so while wearing a blue no-contact jersey, limiting his participation.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about Alexander earlier this week and discussed his chances of returning for the team's first playoff run since the 2013 season.

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"He's coming along," Shanahan said of Alexander. "There's definitely going to be a chance. I don't think that will be this week, but if we're fortunate enough to win our first game, I think he could have a chance after that. We're still holding out hope for that, but we'll see how it goes over these next couple of weeks."

Also wearing a blue no-contact jersey was safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), whom the team hopes will be available for its January 11 playoff game against the lowest-seeded opponent to emerge from this weekend's games.

Defensive end Dee Ford (hamstring) did not practice. He was inactive for the 49ers' final three games of the regular season.

Shanahan has already said that he hopes to have both his safety and veteran pass rusher on the field for their first playoff game.

"I'm hoping for it, and I am feeling optimistic about it," Shanahan said on Monday. "You never know how those things go with the ribs (Tartt) and with the hamstring (Ford), but that was the goal. We knew there could be a slight chance this week if we were playing this week, so getting this bye week should make it an even better chance then."

Shanahan is also optimistic that guard Mike Person (neck) will be able to get on the field for the playoffs — if needed. He was limited during Thursday's practice.

"Mike's good to go," Shanahan said. "I mean, he's battled through all this stuff. I think these two weeks of him not having to get in these games has helped him a lot. The issues he has aren't going to go away until after the season, until he can take a couple of months off, but I think these two weeks have helped him."

There will be no official injury or participation report from Thursday's practice. The 49ers are not required to issue one until next Tuesday.

San Francisco will hold another practice on Friday at 11 a.m. PT. It will be the last practice before the team enjoys some time off. The next practice after that will be on Tuesday.

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