When Deebo Samuel went down with a leg injury in Week 14, it looked like yet another bit of misfortune marring the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2022 NFL season. Dubbed a high ankle sprain at the time, Samuel wasn’t placed on IR, largely because the team only had one activation left with Elijah Mitchell’s return forthcoming, but has been nothing more than a limited participant at practice ever since.
Fortunately, in Week 18, Samuel returned to practice as a full participant, which should be a welcomed sign for fantasy football managers preparing for their championship round, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that he’ll be back on the field for the regular season finale, as the former All-Pro doesn’t want to “push it .”
“Not necessarily trying to push [to play this weekend],” Samuel told reporters via 49ers Webzone. “I’m not going to risk myself. If I’m not 100 percent ready to go, I’m not going to go out there.”
While Samuel’s comments may be misconstrued by some as being overly cautious – mainly from fans who need him for their fantasy championship games – suffering a setback one week before the playoffs would be disastrous for the 49ers. If he opts to take one more week off to recover, the 49ers will be in good hands with Brandon Aiyuk, who turned in his biggest game of the season in Week 17.
Kyle Shanahan was Proud of the San Francisco 49ers’ WR1 in Week 17
For how impressive Aiyuk’s stat line looked in Week 17, Kyle Shanahan wasn’t totally sold on his third-year wide receiver’s efforts for much of the game.
“I thought Aiyuk really rebounded well,” Shanahan said via NBC Sports. I thought he was struggling a lot in that game. But he ended up making some big plays at the end that really helped us win,” Shanahan said. “So I thought it was a h*ll of a job by him just overcoming how some things started, and he ended up finishing real strong.”
Shanahan’s evaluation is correct; after a rough start to the game, Aiyuk caught every ball Brock Purdy completed on the penultimate drive of the game and set the Niners up for a game-winning field goal just before the end of regulation.
“There are responsibilities on each play, so that’s why you can’t always judge how great of a game it was based off of stats,” Shanahan said. “I know it was great that he got over 100 yards, which I was happy for him. He deserved it.”
“He was one of the reasons why we won at the end. I’m just saying that he’s had some better games throughout the year.”
Deebo Samuel Explains his Scary Injury
Extrapolating on his injury even more, Samuel explained how he felt while being carted off the field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I thought I was done,” Samuel admitted. “I’ve never been in a position like that in my 15 years playing. It was kind of a scary scene, but just knowing that I came out of it is just crazy.”
Fortunately, Samuel had ankle surgery back in college that he believed helped to keep his injury from being catastrophic.
“It kind of protected my left leg a lot,” Samuel said. “But after getting the [MRI] results, I thanked God that I was able to come out of that and able to continue to play the game this year, and all praise to the most high.”
Regardless of when Samuel returns to the field for the 49ers, when the day eventually comes, it will give Purdy a chance to play with two Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers, which is a luxury he hasn’t been afforded since his first start in Week 14.