The 49ers head into the regular season with some degree of uncertainty about two of the team’s top three outside receivers.
Deebo Samuel was activated Saturday onto the 53-man roster after being out since June following surgery to repair a fracture in his left foot. It is undetermined whether he will play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
And rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk's status also is up in the air. He has not practiced since leaving practice on Aug. 23 with a left hamstring strain.
A year ago, the 49ers ended up playing only three receivers with Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders and Kendrick Bourne seeing action.
This season, Samuel, Aiyuk, Bourne and Trent Taylor will see a lot of action, and the club expects Dante Pettis to rebound from a woeful season.
Still, the 49ers’ situation at wide receiver is where Sunday Night Football on NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth sees the biggest area of concern.
“I really think it starts at the receiver position, just because they play it so uniquely with their tight splits with their ability to have a Deebo Samuel, not only block, help the running game but catch those tough balls over the middle, run the reverses, like we saw at the end of the year,” Collinsworth said.
“He’s just a bull.”
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo certainly appears to have more options in the passing game this season with George Kittle and Jordan Reed at tight end, and the addition of Jerick McKinnon as a third-down back.
But Collinsworth suggests the 49ers still need threats on the outside to make Shanahan's offense click.
Collinsworth said he believes Aiyuk can become virtually interchangeable with Samuel with the ability to do many of the same things in Kyle Shanahan’s offense that Samuel featured in 2019 as a rookie.
“I watched a lot of him in college,” Colinsworth said of Aiyuk, “and I think he has ability to have some of that same skill set and do some of those same things. But you don’t know it until you see it.
“I’m sure that Kyle and his staff have a much better feel for where this team is right now, but we still have to see. You still have to get a feel for, do they still have that same sort of ability to run it and play action and be able to hit some of those big plays in the passing game.”