The 49ers can activate wide receiver Deebo Samuel from injured reserve this week, and it sure seems like they will.
Days after coach Kyle Shanahan said Samuel would return to practice in Week 4 and could play in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, Samuel posted on his Instagram Monday that he's "[back] in action with the bros."
Samuel sustained a Jones fracture in his foot in June and underwent surgery during the offseason to repair it. Although Samuel tweeted he expected to be back in 10 weeks, his return to the field this week would place him right in the middle of the 12-to-16-week recovery timeline that initially was reported.
The 49ers have gone 2-1 in Samuel's absence, but getting their leading wide receiver from a year ago back in the fold should be a big boost ahead of the schedule ramping up in difficulty. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie in 2019, scoring three more TDs on the ground while also rushing for 159 yards on 14 carries.
Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, lead running back Raheem Mostert and All-Pro tight end George Kittle all are working their way back from knee injuries, and the 49ers' offense is approaching full strength. Samuel and his three teammates are yet to take the field together this season, and the 49ers still rank in the top 15 in total yards per game (381.7) despite that.
Tight end Jordan Reed's expected six-to-eight-week absence is a big blow, but getting so many starters back in a short period of time undoubtedly will help the 49ers' offense. After an injury-riddled start to the season, Samuel's return to the practice field this week is a sign of better days ahead for the 49ers.