The 49ers' depth at wide receiver has taken a bit of a hit, as Richie James will be out at least six weeks after knee injury that will require surgery, coach Kyle Shanahan announced Friday.
The injury likely means James will make the 49ers' 53-man roster out of the preseason, but will be placed on injured reserve in order to be eligible for re-activation at some point during the year. The NFL's IR rules in 2021 allow a team to bring a player back after a minimum of three weeks on injured reserve. Only players on the initial 53-man roster are allowed to return from injured reserve.
James likely was set to be the punt returner for the 49ers during the regular season, and Travis Benjamin potentially will take that role over, The Athletic's Matt Barrows reported Friday.
This also likely makes Jalen Hurd a more attractive addition to the 53-man roster, as the 49ers will need depth at the receiver position for whichever quarterback ends up being the 49ers' starter.
We'll see how this affects the 49ers' wideout rotation in Sunday's final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders.