NFL.com’s Field Yates tweeted out the news Saturday that Deebo Samuel, who was ruled out for the 49ers’ Week 1 clash against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, is now being place on the team’s injured reserve.
The 49ers have placed WR Deebo Samuel on IR, per source. He’s out at least 3 games.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 12, 2020
It’s a move that makes sense from the San Francisco perspective, mostly because ensuring that Deebo is healthy for the long-term than attempting to rush him back from his jones fracture injury and make things worse.
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What IR Means for 49ers, Samuel
With Samuel now officially on the injured reserve, the second-year receiver will not be available until Week 4 at the earliest, meaning that Deebo not only won’t play against the Cardinals, but will also be unavailable for the cross-country trip to New York to play the Giants and Jets in back-to-back weeks.
It’s the safe move for the 49ers, but it’s also a major loss. Samuel only seemed to improve with gametime last year, and appeared to be poised for more progression in his second year as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
The loss of Samuel for a few weeks hurts not only for his potential with the ball in his hands, it also hurts how Shanahan and the team like to diversify their offense.
Deebo provides another level of complexity through the rushing game, while also having distinct athletic capabilities to build plays around. With the former South Carolina Gamecock out, the 49ers’ next closest option is Richie James Jr., who will be a player to look out for over the next few weeks.
However, the 49ers may not just have to mix it up over the past few weeks. A much-talked about point with a jones fracture is that it can be complicated by set backs and recovery, best evidenced via Trent Taylor’s completely absent 2019.
With that context, San Francisco will be patient to do everything they can to make sure Deebo is healthy and healthy for good.
While Samuel heads to the IR, the 49ers also promoted the pair of center Hroniss Grasu and cornerback Dontae Johnson ahead of Sunday’s battle with Arizona.
The two promotions tell San Francisco fans a few different things about what the team has planned for this weekend.
For one, it doesn’t bode well for Ben Garland, who is set to be the early-season starter at center due to Weston Richburg being out for at least six weeks. Garland has been battling his own hamstring injury, and is still questionable for Sunday.
Grasu would slot in, but the 49ers will hope that’s not necessary. Garland performed well in his limited starts in 2019, and the team will much rather put their trust in a player they know can do the job.
While Johnson just becomes extra security for the secondary, the fact that the next spot wasn’t taken by a receiver means that rookie Brandon Aiyuk should be good to go, which is a decent positive all things considered.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.