Finally, some good injury news for the San Francisco 49ers.
Since training camp began in Santa Clara, California, it’s seemed like every single day was just another chance for a San Francisco player to suffer an injury.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Raheem Mostert, defensive end Nick Bosa, corner Richard Sherman, the list goes on and on as the unorthodox start and season has seen no team suffer more issues than the 49ers.
However, two stars that San Francisco will be more than happy to see return are tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who both practice on Wednesday ahead of the 49ers’ Week 4 match-up with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Deebo Samuel’s practice window is officially open. He’ll retake the field for the 49ers today
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 30, 2020
Shanahan said George Kittle will be “full go” in practice today.
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) September 30, 2020
It’s an encouraging sign to say the least, even with Jimmy G likely out for this weekend and backup QB Nick Mullens playing instead.
But even with that damper, Mullens’ play in the Week 3 win over the New York Giants was fairly impressive, and now he’ll get to another chance to impress with the 49ers’ top two passing targets.
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Kittle’s injury in the Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was the classic example of how football can be dangerous without malicious intent, as Caridnals safety Budda Baker made a smart play that ended with Kittle’s limping off the field.
Kittle has since made it a point to say that Baker’s tackle was as standard as it could be, but that didn’t make not having the NFL’s top tight end any sweeter for the 49ers’ two-week journey to New Jersey.
But with the former Iowa Hawkeye now practicing, there’s reason for optimism that he’ll be ready in time for Sunday, and his presence’s importance cannot be understated.
Even besides the big-play potential, Kittle’s energy and the fact that he just seemingly doesn’t lose on plays is something that the 49ers will desperately need as they try and do enough in the first half of the season to remain in contention for the NFC West.
While Kittle’s injury has been unfortunate, he hasn’t missed months and months due to recovery like Samuel has. Ever since suffering a jones fracture back in June, the second-year receiver has had to focus on recovery, which has gone smoother than the worst-case scenario detailed by Trent Taylor’s absence for the entirety of the 2019 campaign.
It remains to be seen if Deebo can fully recover in time for this weekend, but the fact that he’s on his way is good enough. While Kittle also offers explosiveness, Samuel’s ability to stretch the field is something that the 49ers sorely miss.
Rookie Brandon Aiyuk showed flashes of bringing the same ability in Week 3, but Samuel’s elusiveness is on another level completely, not to mention that his hands have already proven to be at the NFL level.
San Francisco doesn’t need to rush him back, and they won’t look to. But if Deebo says he’s good to go and the doctors do as well, the 49ers will receive a massive boost for Sunday.
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.