The San Francisco 49ers have struggled with injuries to their wide receiving corps this offseason, and they will indeed be shorthanded in their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. On Friday, the 49ers announced that Deebo Samuel would not suit up this weekend due to a foot injury, and that rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is questionable with a hamstring injury.
Samuel is less than three months removed from surgery to repair a fractured food, and he did not practice at all this week. The No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft had a productive rookie season for the NFC champions last year, as he caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns in 15 regular season games. When he broke his foot during a team workout in Nashville earlier this offseason, it was understood that he could miss some time. The 49ers hope that he can return to the practice field in the near future.
The fact that Aiyuk is questionable with a hamstring injury is concerning since he is a candidate to step up in Samuel’s absence. The former Arizona State star pulled his hamstring a few weeks ago, and while he did not practice on Wednesday, he returned as a limited participant on Thursday and Friday.
“I’ve been real impressed with him, just being around him,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan recently said of Aiyuk. “He was very impressive on the Zoom meetings, just his attention to detail. Since we’ve gotten here, just going through these walk-throughs and stuff, you can tell he knows how to practice like a pro. You can tell he comes prepared every day. He’s not a guy you have to teach how to act, or teach how important it is to learn this stuff. You can tell he understood that before he got here.
“Since we’ve been around him, you can tell he’s been working. That’s why he’s further ahead than, I think, other rookies at this time.”
While the 49ers have had bad luck with the heath of their wide receivers, they may have a young player who could come in and make an immediate impact should they need him. San Francisco drafted former Tennessee wideout Jauan Jennings in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and placed him on their practice squad. CBS Sports NFL Draft writer Chris Trapasso was surprised that he did not make the initial 53-man roster, and has him listed as his No. 1 overall player in his first edition of the 2020 NFL practice squad power rankings.