It’s going to be close, but the San Francisco 49ers may have one of their best attacking threats in time for Sunday.
Per the Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan went on local San Francisco station KNBR on Friday to discuss all things 49ers, which included a positive update on wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) September 11, 2020
While Shanahan’s update is complemented by the fact that he thinks rookie and 2020 NFL Draft first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk is more likely to play than Samuel, that down note is a given. Aiyuk returned to practice a day earlier, so it only makes sense.
If Samuel was going to play on Sunday, returning Friday was a must. There’s still a good chance that the receiver could miss the 49ers’ opener against the Arizona Cardinals, but at least he’s not completely ruled out at the start of the weekend.
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Deebo’s Injury Saga
After a promising college career with South Carolina, Samuel wasted little time making an impact in the NFL, becoming the 49ers most dynamic receiver during the 2019 run to Super Bowl LIV.
With Emmanuel Sanders gone, there was never a question that Samuel would be the 49ers’ No. 1 wide-out, complementing tight end George Kittle and now bolstered by the arrival of Aiyuk, while also maintaining the presence of players like Kendrick Bourne.
However, Samuel ran into a hiccup this past June while practicing in Nashville, Tennessee with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and other offense members, suffering a jones fracture and harkening back to what fellow WR Trent Taylor suffered last year, missing the whole season due to setbacks from the injury.
Unlike Taylor’s situation, Deebo’s recovery has gone according to schedule so far, with the receiver possibly getting back in time for the first matchup with the Cardinals, which was many considered to be the best-case scenario.
While missing Samuel on Sunday would definitely bring the 49ers down a dimension, the overall pace of the return has been ideal. Even if Samuel doesn’t play, him getting to practice means that it should be close to certain that he’ll be ready for Week 2.
Updates on Dee Ford and Nick Bosa
Like Aiyuk and Samuel, the 49ers were also worrying about another positional tandem in edge-rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, who were also dealing with injury recovery over the past couple weeks.
But with the pair returning to practice over the past few days, signs were pointing to Ford and Bosa being able to get on the field against the Cardinals, which Shanahan all but confirmed on Friday.
— 49ers Webzone (@49erswebzone) September 11, 2020
While their status was less in jeopardy than Aiyuk and Deebo’s, it’s still very encouraging just to see that not only are they available, they’re healthy and ready for Week 1.
Considering that the 49ers are facing off against a dynamic offense piloted by Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray and now enhanced by wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the pair couldn’t be returning at a better time.
Putting pressure on Murray and disrupting plays from the snap will be imperative, and it becomes a lot easier for the 49ers to do with Bosa and Ford.
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.