The San Francisco 49ers just can’t seem to get wideout Jalen Hurd onto the field, as the team’s talented young edge weapon appears likely headed back to the injured reserve (IR) list.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday, September 8, announced that Hurd has re-aggravated an injury to the same knee in which he tore an ACL before the start of last season. That issue kept the wide receiver sidelined for all of the 2020-21 campaign.
Matt Barrows, 49ers reporter for The Athletic, took to Twitter with Shanahan’s comments, along with the Niners most likely backup plan, just four days before the team’s regular season opener against the Lions in Detroit.
“Shanahan said Jalen Hurd’s knee started bothering him shortly after the Raiders game and the pain hasn’t gone away,” Barrows tweeted. “Team will ‘shut him down for a little bit’ — that is, he’s an IR candidate with Travis Benjamin the top candidate to take his spot.”
Benjamin, a veteran with eight years of experience on active NFL rosters, has appeared in 101 games, starting 37 of them, throughout the course of his career with the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.
During that time, he has caught 208 passes for a total of 3,143 yards and 19 touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference. He has also rushed the ball 36 times for a total of 268 yards.
The Niners signed Benjamin to the team’s practice squad on September 1.
Hurd Hurt Yet Again
Hurd is expected to miss at least the first three weeks of the regular season with knee soreness. Unfortunately for both the wideout and the Niners, Hurd being sidelined with injury troubles has hardly proven an unfamiliar narrative.
The third-round draft pick in 2019 is entering his third season in the league, but he has yet to play even a single snap in a regular season game.
Prior to his rookie year, Hurd broke a bone in his back that kept him out the entire season. The Niners made a run all the way to the Super Bowl that year and could have used the 6-foot, 5-inch, 225-pound versatile playmaker out of Baylor University in what ended up a blown fourth quarter lead to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hurd then tore his ACL on the first day of training camp last season, missing every single game because of that injury. Leading up to Shanahan’s announcement on Wednesday, Hurd had missed more time during preseason practices and games than he played due to what the team described as knee tendinitis.
The wideout finally found the field during the team’s final preseason tuneup against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, August 29, catching 4 passes for 25 yards and registering 2 drops.
He has not practiced since that time.
Hurd Made Team Despite Numerous Preseason Injury Concerns
Hurd was named to the initial 53-man roster just one day after the Niners victory over the Raiders. Just a week later, he appears headed for a three-week hiatus, at minimum.
While the news is unfortunate, it should not come as much of a surprise to those who follow the Niners closely. Shanahan put public pressure on Hurd to return to practice in August, indicating that the wideout still had work to do if he was to earn a roster spot heading into the season.
“I know he’s battling back from a serious injury, and we know the potential he has and the upside and how much we think he can help us, but he’s got to show that,” Shanahan told media members Tuesday, August 10.
“And there’s not a lot of time left. But we want to be smart with him. I know some things were bothering him today, so we were smart with him,” Shanahan continued. “Hopefully, he can get in a groove where he has a chance to go out there and play some football and give himself a chance to make this team.”
Clearly, Hurd showed Shanahan and company enough to earn a spot on the active roster yet again this season, despite never actually doing anything in a game, including even lining up for a snap.
However, the clock now appears clearly to be ticking on the amount of time the Niners are willing to abide Hurd remaining on the sideline, as they continue to pay him based on sheer potential alone.