Last season was just a taste of what Deebo Samuel can do for the 49ers. After showing star potential as a rookie, expectations were sky-high for the receiver heading into the 2020 season.
And then, the 49ers' front office had to collectively shake their heads and yell some choice words that can't be written here.
Samuel sustained a Jones fracture in his left foot one month ago while training with teammates in Nashville. His original timetable to return to the field was 12 to 16 weeks, and Samuel said on social media he would be back in 10 weeks. That's optimistic, though. Extremely optimistic.
NBC Sports' Peter King wrote in his latest "Football Morning in America" column that Samuel could be out until October, which would put his return on the tail end of that 12-to-16 week timeframe, far later than the 10-week mark Samuel is shooting for. King did not cite any sources, and this seems more like his own belief or what he's hearing behind closed doors.
"With someone who relies on speed and cutting as much as the cat-quick Samuel does, the 49ers cannot rush him back," King wrote.
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The 49ers know just how complicated Jones fractures could be. Fellow receiver Trent Taylor, who was a star in training camp last year, sustained the same injury and had to undergo five surgeries. Taylor missed all of last season due to complications.
There could be a bit of a silver lining for San Francisco, though. King is right in the fact that the 49ers cannot afford to rush Samuel. When looking at their schedule, they actually can afford to take their time.
In September, the 49ers start the season off against the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and New York Giants. All of those should be winnable games. They then open October against the Philadelphia Eagles, which could be a tough matchup, before playing the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams.
Between the regular season and playoffs, Samuel had 929 receiving yards and 261 rushing yards. He's the perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense, forcing seven missed tackles as a ball-carrier. His ability as a receiver and runner give Shanahan his dream toy for an explosive offense.
While the 49ers will miss Samuel on the field, being without him for a few games is a whole lot better than a whole season. They have to slow-play this, and if that means playing without Samuel for a couple of weeks, then so be it.