49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel broke his foot during a throwing session, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Samuel suffered the injury on Tuesday in Nashville and he’ll have surgery today to correct the Jones fracture in his left foot.
Samuel “should be able” to suit up “early in the season,” Rapoport hears, noting the 2019 second-round pick faces a 12- to 16-week timetable (Twitter link). It stands to reason that he won’t be ready to go in time for the opener, when the 49ers are slated to face the Cardinals on Sept. 13.
Samuel impressed as a rookie last year, hauling in 57 grabs for 802 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he was slated to serve as one of the team’s leading receivers, along with NFL frosh Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd, and Kendrick Bourne. The Niners may choose to stand pat, depending on how Samuel’s recovery goes, but they’ll likely assess available wide receiver options as well.
While it represents good news that Samuel will likely be able to return during the season’s first half, this is a considerable blow to a passing attack that lost Emmanuel Sanders. The 49ers allowed the 2019 trade acquisition-turned-Super Bowl starter to defect to the Saints in free agency. The drop from Samuel to the rest of San Francisco’s receivers is fairly significant.
The 49ers still employ 2018 second-round pick Dante Pettis, but after a promising rookie season, the Washington alum barely played down the stretch as an NFL sophomore. Slot receiver Trent Taylor is also returning from a broken foot, which cost him the entire 2019 season. That experience may prompt the 49ers to act swiftly to cover themselves on the wideout front.
Free agent options include Taylor Gabriel, who played for Kyle Shanahan with the 2016 Falcons. Jordan Matthews, whom the 49ers added last year, is also back on the market. So are Jermaine Kearse and Dontrelle Inman. Bigger names like Josh Gordon — who applied again for NFL reinstatement today — and Antonio Brown reside on the market as well. The 49ers were connected to the then-less controversial wideout last year but opted not to pull the trigger on a trade.
San Francisco has been aggressive on the trade market to plug holes recently, from adding Sanders to giving up more draft capital to acquire Trent Williams shortly after Joe Staley‘s retirement. It would not be surprising to see the defending NFC champions make a move to bolster this position while Samuel recovers.
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