The 49ers will welcome back left tackle Trent Williams and wide receiver Deebo Samuel for the club’s Week 10 game against the Jaguars, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com subsequently wrote that Williams is facing an “uphill battle” to suit up, but Schefter doubled down on his earlier report and noted that while Williams is not fully recovered from his sprained ankle, he will be back on the field for the Jacksonville matchup.
Both Williams and Samuel were injured in the Niners’ Week 6 loss to the Browns, the first of three consecutive defeats that turned a 5-0 Super Bowl frontrunner into a 5-3 outfit facing plenty of scrutiny. While Williams was able to finish the Cleveland contest, he found himself in an orthopedic walking boot afterwards and was then sidelined for San Francisco’s next two games against the Vikings and Bengals.
Samuel, meanwhile, sustained a hairline fracture in his shoulder in the early stages of the Cleveland game and was unable to return. Like Williams, Samuel missed both the Minnesota and Cincinnati matchups. A well-timed Week 9 bye allowed the high-profile duo to sufficiently recover for today’s battle with the 6-2 Jags.
It is perhaps no coincidence that quarterback Brock Purdy has struggled without his top wideout for most of the last three games and his 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle for the last two. After throwing nine TDs and zero interceptions over the first five games of the season, a stretch in which he posted QB ratings of well over 100.0 four times, Purdy has thrown three TD passes against six interceptions during the 49ers’ losing streak. Obviously, the return of Williams and Samuel could go a long way in helping the 2022 seventh-rounder right the ship.
Williams may be in his age-35 season, but he is still playing at an elite level. The No. 4 overall pick of the 2010 draft has earned a stellar overall grade of 81.9 from Pro Football Focus for his work this season, which positions him as the fifth-best tackle among 77 qualified players. While the Oklahoma product suggested that he was considering retirement in the immediate aftermath of San Francisco’s NFC Championship Game defeat to close out the 2022 campaign, he said right before the start of the current season that he hopes to play until he is 40. He is presently under contract through 2026.
Samuel, a First Team All-Pro in 2021 who led the NFL in yards-per-reception rate that year, has 20 catches for 302 yards (15.1 YPR) and a score through five games and part of a sixth in 2023. The 27-year-old dual-threat weapon has added 18 carries for 95 yards and a rushing TD.