Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have some tough decisions ahead, and what to do with 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd is at the top of the list.
The 49ers used a 2019 third-round pick (67th overall) to select Hurd, who has yet to play a regular season snap. The thought was that the 6-foot-4 former running back would be able to do it all on the field, but that plan has yet to materialize.
While the 49ers would like to see if Hurd can realize his potential in Shanahan’s offense, keeping him on the roster would mean sacrificing a player that has a higher likelihood of contributing the entire 2021 season.
What are the odds that Hurd could be a difference-maker on the field for an full 17-game season?
“I’ve seen Jalen when he’s going,” Shanahan said. “I know he’s one of our top six receivers so that’s not an issue. But that’s how Dee Ford was last year, and that’s how [Jaquiski] Tartt is. We know they are one of our top guys at those positions but it’s such a scary thing and hard decision for the 53.
“We have other guys there, who are after those guys, and who could make this team and really help us. You got to make sure guys are healthy enough to play through the whole year — that they don’t just get to Week 1 and only last a quarter and a half and then they have another injury and you wish you had another guy there but he didn’t make the 53 because of that.”
With the news that Richie James will be out approximately six weeks and needs surgery on his injured knee, the odds that Hurd makes the roster is a little higher. One thing going against Hurd is that he doesn’t contribute on special teams.
The remaining wide receivers are:
- Deebo Samuel
- Brandon Aiyuk
- Mohamed Sanu
- Jauan Jennings
- Trent Sherfield
- Travis Benjamin
- Nsimba Webster
“There’s no right or wrong answer, that’s just the challenge of it,” Shanahan said. “You try to get as much information as you can, which is usually if they can make it through a whole camp, they can make it through a season but they weren’t in a situation where they could do that.
“That’s the dilemma with going into camp hurt and that’s the stress on it for everybody — coaches, players, the 53-man roster. That’s just part of it.”