There was a point in training camp this summer when wide receiver Deebo Samuel walked onto the field to catch a few warmup passes from 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The team’s head athletic trainer, Dustin Little, spotted Samuel and quickly pulled him to the sideline. Samuel, then on the non-football injury list, was not allowed to practice with his teammates in any form.
That will change on Wednesday. Coach Kyle Shanahan said Samuel is expected to be activated off injured reserve to take part in practice when the 49ers begin preparations to face the Philadelphia Eagles this week.
“He’s been champing at the bit to get back,” Shanahan said on Monday. “I know he’s really made a lot of progress here in the last 14 days. I know he’s pumped to practice. I know he’s pumped to play.”
Samuel underwent surgery in June to repair a Jones fracture in his left foot during a player-organized workout in the Nashville area. The 49ers hoped he would be available when the season opened, but Samuel experienced a setback during his rehab.
After spending the minimum of three weeks on injured reserve, Samuel is eligible to make his season debut on Sunday night when the 49ers play the Philadelphia Eagles at Levi’s Stadium.
Shanahan said the 49ers’ decision on Samuel's status will be based on how his body reacts to his first organized practices in nearly eight months.
“We’ll see how he is,” Shanahan said. “I know he conditioned right. I know he’s healthy. I know he’s feeling good.
“But Wednesday will be his first time at football practice since Super Bowl week of last year. So we have to take that into account, also. We’ll see how he goes in these three days, then we’ll evaluate that at the end of the week.”
Samuel, coming off an impressive rookie season, was expected to be the team’s top wide receiver.
In 2019, Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns after coming to the 49ers as a second-round draft pick from South Carolina. He also rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 14 attempts.
Samuel added another 10 catches for 127 yards in the postseason. He gained 53 yards on three carries to set the Super Bowl record for most rushing yards from a wide receiver.