Coach Kyle Shanahan envisioned wide receiver Jalen Hurd being a game-changer for the 49ers' offense.
The 49ers selected Hurd in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft to become a player who could be deployed to create matchup problems for opposing defenses.
But Hurd never stepped on the field for a regular-season game due to back and knee injuries.
The 49ers announced on Thursday they waived Hurd, who had been on injured reserve.
Coincidentally, the 49ers officially cut ties with Hurd within minutes of the Los Angeles Rams announcing the acquisition of veteran wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The 49ers turned the page on an oft-injured young player who at one point appeared to have such a promising future.
The Rams continued their spree of acquiring big-name players.
And that seems to sum up the directions these organizations are heading, as they prepare for their Monday night matchup at Levi’s Stadium.
Add Beckham to the list of splashy Rams acquisitions over the past couple of years, beginning with All-Pro Jalen Ramsey, whom the Rams picked up in a 2019 trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Rams stockpiled their roster this year to make a Super Bowl run this season with quarterback Matthew Stafford, edge rusher Von Miller and, now, Beckham.
Even before picking up Miller and Beckham, the Rams’ approach was notable enough for 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward to ponder why DeForest Buckner had to be shipped off to the Indianapolis Colts last year.
“Couldn’t keep everyone,” Ward said. “Well, maybe. I don’t know. Probably could have made it work somehow. The Rams keep doing it. I don’t know how. You know where they’re getting all this money from? But I don’t know. It’s the business side of it.”
The Rams already had two quality wide receivers with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
With Stafford at quarterback, the Rams have played more three-receiver formations than ever, and Beckham is likely to fill an important role on the team in the second half of the season.
Kupp leads the NFL with 74 catches for 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns. Woods has 45 catches for 556 yards and four touchdowns. The Rams, No. 3 receiver, Van Jefferson has 27 catches for 433 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have struggled to find another reliable wide receiver aside of Deebo Samuel. Second-year pro Brandon Aiyuk showed signs the past two games of turning his season around. Aiyuk has appeared in every game this season but has just 19 receptions for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
The closest person the 49ers had to a No. 3 receiver is veteran Mohamed Sanu, who is now expected to miss extended time with a knee injury.
Shanahan said this week that he did not expect Hurd to play for the club this season. The organization made it official on Thursday.
Shanahan has made it known how much he likes Beckham.
But the 49ers were never a factor in the competition to land Beckham, who cleared waivers on Tuesday.
The 49ers were lacking the cash and cachet to get it done.
And those are two things that are not in short supply for the Rams right now.