Uncertainty surrounds Smith, Bowman's returns

The 49ers are still waiting to hear if linebacker Aldon Smith's nine-game suspension will be reduced. And Jim Harbaugh would not say when NaVorro Bowman will return to the practice field.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - When it comes to the news regarding Aldon Smith potentially having his nine-game suspension reduced, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh says he knows as much as the rest of us.

"I've heard a lot of the speculation and you've asked me the question several times and I've answered it as I know it," Harbaugh said Monday. "I don't know anything about any 'early' speculation. Don't know what more I can say to add to that. Really nothing."

A report from Pro Football Talk prior to the 49ers' last game against the Denver Broncos indicated Smith's suspension could be reduced as many as two games, allowing the talented pass rusher to make his season debut this weekend against the St. Louis Rams.

While multiple outlets maintain that hasn't changed, Harbaugh says he doesn't know if and when that decision will come down from the league. There's also the possibility Smith remains suspended this week and is reinstated for the following game against the New Orleans Saints Nov. 9.

Harbaugh's stance was similar on the return of NaVorro Bowman, who continues to ramp up his rehab from his torn ACL and MCL suffered in last January's conference title game. He has been doing individual conditioning drills and lifting weights while gearing up for his eventual return to the 53-man roster. Bowman is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.

"He's definitely making progress," Harbaugh said.

"He's running. He's doing some lateral cutting. He's progressing. Nothing to report today about a time table."

The 49ers could add Bowman to the 53-man roster as late as Week 15 when they return to Seattle to play the Seahawks. They are likely to open his 21-day practice window in the coming weeks to give him a simulated training camp, much like they are with running back Marcus Lattimore.

Until Bowman's 21-day practice window is open, when he returns to game action is anyone's guess. One thing is certain: the 49ers will not rush the former All-Pro back before he is ready.

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