The 49ers are bracing for wide receiver Deebo Samuel to miss games at the beginning of the season due to a broken left foot sustained in an offseason workout last month, general manager John Lynch said Tuesday.
“(We’re) not going to put an exact timeline on it, but I think it’s fair to say he may well miss some games early in the year,” Lynch said during an appearance on KNBR’s "Murph & Mac" show.
“But we’re going to have him back at some point, and I know his rehab is going very well and he’s working very diligently and he's still intent on having a really big year for us. That’s the good news of it.”
Samuel, who reported last week with the team’s injured players for the first round of COVID-19 testing, will open training camp on the active/non-football injury list. If he remains on NFI at the start of the regular season, he would be ineligible to practice or play for the first six weeks of the regular season. One scenario would be for his season debut could come in Week 7 against the New England Patriots on Oct. 25.
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Samuel had a strong rookie season after the 49ers selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns while appearing in 15 regular-season games. He set the Super Bowl record for rushing yards from a wide receiver with 53 yards on three attempts.
Lynch said the 49ers were particularly encouraged by the amount of work they saw Samuel doing in the offseason to get ready for his second year in the league. Samuel was working with most of the 49ers’ skill players, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, on the artificial surface field at Brentwood Academy outside of Nashville when he sustained the injury. He underwent surgery on June 18.
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“He was working tremendous when our players were down in Nashville doing some workouts that Jimmy designed and put together,” Lynch said. “Unfortunately, just a freak deal, where he went to make a cut and (sustained) a Jones fracture in his foot.
“That was a blow. But you always try to be optimistic. The good news is it happened when it happened. So might we be without him a little bit at the beginning of the season? Yes. That timeline, sometimes these things heal at a different rate. They continue to monitor it. He’s doing well.”
Samuel was expected to open the season as the team’s top wideout. Now, Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis and others will attempt to compensate for the expected loss of Samuel until his return.