Finally, after two years of not seeing the field, the 49ers' third-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is part of the team's 53-man roster.
Jalen Hurd, whose on-field potential remains a mystery, is set to make his NFL debut this season. After back and ACL injuries sidelined him for his first two seasons, the former Baylor Bear finally can prove general manager John Lynch correct.
Lynch has been enamored with Hurd since the pre-draft process in 2019 and still believes the receiver's talent will be realized if he can stay healthy.
“If Hurd can be out there -- there’s a reason we drafted Jalen Hurd,” Lynch said on Friday on KNBR. “He’s extremely talented and physical and fast and all those things, and he’s got really good hands.”
The 49ers instead chose to release wideout Travis Benjamin, who sustained a concussion in the team’s final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders. San Francisco also cut Nsimba Webster and River Cracraft who, along with Benjamin, were all seen on punt-return duties. If they pass through waivers unclaimed, they could be brought back on the practice squad.
Wide receivers on the 49ers' initial 53-man roster:
- Brandon Aiyuk
- Deebo Samuel
- Mohamed Sanu
- Trent Sherfield
- Jalen Hurd
- Jauan Jennings
Hurd, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, offers a different skill set than the other five receivers. A big body who played running back in college, Hurd can expand Kyle Shanahan’s options on offense -- if he stays healthy.
In the 49ers' final exhibition against the Raiders, Hurd caught four of his six targets for 25 yards and gained two yards on his lone rushing attempt. He also had two drops, though, which he will need to avoid to remain in the good graces of the coaching staff.
Like rookie quarterback Trey Lance, the front office sees the potential in Hurd. He adds size to a group that does not shy away from contact and will continue its tradition of getting plenty of YAC (yards after catch).
Though unproven to this point, Hurd's potential clearly was too appealing for the 49ers to pass up. Had he not made the 53-man roster, there's a good chance he would have been scooped up by another team.