Samuel, the most versatile and dynamic weapon on the San Francisco 49ers‘ offense, left during the 34-26 home win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, November 28 with a groin injury. On Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN revealed the extent of the injury.
No Samuel means there’s no one leftover who can stretch the field like he can on the ‘Niners roster, right? It also means there’s nobody who can take handoffs from the receiving core the way Samuel did, correct?
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“He’s (Samuel) been a big part of our offense, but I think we’re in a spot right now that we can overcome that,” Shanahan said to the Bay Area media when asked how he would adjust without Samuel. “(George) Kittle came in yesterday and made a huge play. (Brandon) Aiyuk’s been stepping it up each week, doing better. You guys see Jauan (Jennings) coming along.”
But then after Jennings’ name got blurted out, Shanahan mentioned one more name on the 2021 49ers roster. And he’s someone who once blazed the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds.
“I’d love to give Travis Benjamin more opportunities anyways, having his speed out there,” Shanahan said.
Who is Benjamin?
Some may be familiar with the name Benjamin. Or some 49er fans may forget his name was on the roster.
But here’s a summary of Benjamin:
He’s a veteran receiver who entered the league in 2012 as a fourth rounder out of the University of Miami. Here’s why he caught the attention of NFL Scouts: The wheels attached to his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame.
He once was described as someone who possessed “spectacular speed.”
The Cleveland Browns went on to give him his first pro football home. Benjamin had rough NFL beginnings: Only six starts and catching no more than 18 passes in his first three seasons of the league per Pro Football Reference.
But then came year No. 4 — career-highs in receptions (68), yardage (966) and touchdowns (5) in 15 NFL starts.
Since then, he’s caught no more than 47 throws in a single season in stints with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. A quad injury and a congested wide receiver lineup on the ‘Bolts eventually led to his departure.
He signed with the 49ers on a one-year deal before the 2020 season. However, he opted not to play due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Benjamin managed to squeeze in this touchdown during the 2021 preseason through this Trey Lance connection:
Now, he could finally see extensive action.
What Benjamin Can Potentially Bring
Benjamin is obviously not the bully Samuel is when it comes to plays after the catch. He does have one thing in common with Samuel though: Versatility.
He has a past background as a return man.
And he’s got a past background in blowing the top off defenses.
He’s not Samuel. Nor is he Brandon Aiyuk. Or Kittle. But, he’s someone who Shanahan believes can be utilized to add extra, and much needed, speed to the 49ers offense in Samuel’s absence.