The 49ers got some bad news last week when wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a Jones fracture in his foot during a players-only workout in Tennessee.

The second-year receiver is optimistic he can return in 10 weeks, which would put him on track for the 49ers' Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Samuel's timetable for recovery is 12 to 16 weeks, and Jones fractures are notoriously tricky with setbacks occurring often.

Samuel went on Instagram Live on Wednesday to give an update on his foot and revealed how the injury occurred.

Big things were expected of the South Carolina product in 2020. Samuel hit his stride toward the back half of his rookie season and was a key part of the 49ers' offensive game plan in Super Bowl LIV, catching five passes for 39 yards and setting a Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a receiver with 53.

Samuel led all NFL wide receivers in missed tackles forced with 25 in 2019. After Emmanuel Sanders left for the New Orleans Saints in free agency, Samuel was poised to take over as the 49ers' No. 1 receiver and many believed he would take a leap toward stardom in 2020. Former NFL receiver Chad Johnson heaped praise on Samuel and recently retired left tackle Joe Staley believes he could become the best receiver in the NFL.

 

"Basically, he’s one of the most talented rookies I’ve ever seen,” Staley told Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee.  “I was just telling him how important this offseason is and he can be the greatest receiver in the NFL. Just to work really hard this offseason and use this as motivation.”

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Samuel's versatility and tackle-breaking ability make him the perfect weapon for coach Kyle Shanahan's offense. The injury opens the door for Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd, Jauan Jennings and Dante Pettis to step up and fill Samuel's void. Star tight end George Kittle will continue to be the No. 1 option in the 49ers' passing game, but quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will need one or two of the young receivers to rise to the occasion in order for the offense to be as efficient and balanced as it was in 2019.

How Samuel recovers will go a long way in determining the success of the 49ers' quest to get back to the Super Bowl. There's no doubt they want Samuel back as soon as possible, but the prudent thing is to be cautious and make sure he doesn't take the field until he's absolutely 100 percent healed.

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