SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 49ers Monday announced they are requesting a roster exemption for wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who is eligible to play this week after serving his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy handed down in August.
An exemption would allow Simpson to return to the practice field without taking a roster spot. Without the exemption, the 49ers would be forced to release a player of the current 53-man roster in order to add Simpson. They are operating on a truncated practice schedule this week while preparing for the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night at Levi's Stadium.
During his suspension, his third since coming into the league in 2008, Simpson has been allowed to be at the team's facility.
"He’s been in all the meetings," head coach Jim Tomsula said Monday. "He’s lifting weights, he’s run, he’s done all the conditioning with the strength and conditioning people. He just can’t go on the (practice) field."
The 49ers receiving corps includes Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington and DeAndrew White. Simpson has 145 catches for 2,004 yards and eight touchdowns in his six-year career, and hasn't played since 2013.
Another receiver, rookie DeAndre Smelter, is also eligible to being practice this week after starting the season on the reserve/non-football injury list after suffering an ACL tear last year at Georgia Tech. However, it doesn't appear likely Smelter will suit up this season, a year removed from the injury.
Smelter has been regularly working out and doing conditioning drills on the side field during 49ers practices. And because the team currently has a surplus of receivers, it won't be rushed into getting him on to the roster in the near future.
But if the team chooses, it can open his practice window, allowing him to practice with the club for three weeks without adding him to the 53-man roster.
Tomsula didn't have any announcements to make regarding injured center Daniel Kilgore, who is eligible to begin practicing this week after sustaining a lower-leg fracture midway through last season, and requiring an additional surgery in July.
"I know he’s coming along. I’m just going with the trainers on that. But I know he’s moving around," Tomsula said.
Last week, Kilgore said a return this week to play the Seahawks was unlikely.————————————————————————————
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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