SANTA CLARA (KRON) – The San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan has a big decision to make this week, whether or not to play linebacker Kwon Alexander.

The 49ers are preparing to face the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday for the Divisional Round of the playoffs at Levi’s Stadium.

Alexander has been working his way back from a torn pectoral muscle suffered in October.

It typically takes three months or more to recover from a torn pectoral.

Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday Alexander has been medically cleared to play and is recovering faster than expected.

“He’s a week ahead of schedule than we anticipated. He’s been cleared by the medical staff. Now it’s just about how he looks on the field,” Shanahan said.

On Wednesday the 49ers will practice with pads, which will help determine whether or not the coaching staff feels comfortable enough to let Alexander play.

The head coach went on to say, “We’ll have a padded practice tomorrow that’ll help give us a little better idea … Now it’s a coaching decision.”

Last week rookie Nick Bosa, discussed the impact the linebacker had on the team.

Bosa explains, “He’s the MVP of our team. He’s the energy all the time. It’s hard to bring that energy, passion all the time. If he’s there, we have no choice.”

Bosa adds, “He’s the heart and soul of the defense. That’s no disrespect to any of the other guys, that’s just the way it is.”

The 49ers defense was unstoppable in the seven games Alexander finished.

The linebacker allowed only 11 points and 224.4 yards a game.

Looking at the games without Alexander, the 49ers allowed 25.9 points and 326.4 yards a game.

Having the addition of Kwon Alexander back with Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt, will make the 49ers hard to beat.