Receiver room updates: Samuel, Aiyuk timelines, and Mohamed Sanu sounds very much in play

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


Deebo Samuel was supposed to play in Week 1. At the very least, the 49ers said they thought he was close to being available. September 13 was more than 12 weeks after he’d sustained a Jones fracture, an injury which normally takes NFL players 8-10 weeks to recover from, with 12 weeks at the upper end of the timeline, as we explained here.

But, it’s an area of the foot with horrible blood flow, so it’s often a tricky, nagging recovery. That has proven the case for Samuel, who will remain on injured reserve until at least after the 49ers’ Week 3 game against the New York Giants.

Kyle Shanahan confirmed on Monday that Samuel suffered a setback, but that the hope is for Samuel to return in Week 4, when the 49ers play the Philadelphia Eagles. When he returns to practice, he’ll have three weeks to be activated or return to injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

“We didn’t think it was a setback because he was just real sore after running one day, but the soreness never got better,” Shanahan said. “It just got worse and worse after one specific day and usually after one day when it was sore, we thought it was just because he worked it hard. But when that got worse each day and not better, we knew it ended up being a little bit of a setback.”

Because it was initially a non-football injury, the 49ers weren’t permitted to place Samuel on injured reserve, Shanahan said. But the aggravation while practicing allowed them to bend the rules in their favor.

As for Brandon Aiyuk, there’s encouraging news, though less so for Richie James Jr., who suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday and did not return to the game. Shanahan said he would be surprised if Aiyuk is not available for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

James’ status is up in the air.

“We got to see how he feels when Wednesday, but I’m definitely concerned,” Shanahan said. “Our guys are going out. We lost three before this started, and then with Richie, it would make four if he’s not able to go this week, so got a couple of guys on practice squad. We’ll see how this pans out. Just like last week, we didn’t really know till the end of the week and still hoping to get possibly Aiyuk back this week. I’d be surprised if we don’t, which helps. But Richie I don’t know yet so that’ll definitely be a fluid situation all week.”

Currently, the 49ers have three wide receivers on their practice squad in former No. 7 overall pick, Kevin White—one the team’s four protected practice squad players this week—Jauan Jennings, their seventh-round selection from this year, and River Cracraft, a late training camp signing. White seems a likely promotion given that he can play as an outside receiver.

There is the option of signing a free agent, too. Specifically, a free agent familiar to Kyle Shanahan’s scheme and was cut from the New England Patriots, on the same coast the 49ers are currently headed for the next two weeks: Mohamed Sanu.

Before the Emmanuel Sanders trade went down last year, San Francisco was trying to trade for Sanu, but the price—a second-round pick—became too steep. Now, Sanu only has opportunity cost, and Shanahan didn’t shy away from how much he likes him.

Let’s rephrase that. Shanahan raved about how much he liked Sanu, making a point to say he shouldn’t be ruled out as an addition. Hmm.

“We’ll see how these injuries go, but I love Sanu,” Shanahan said. “Him being out there is always a possibility… I wouldn’t rule that out at all. He’s a guy I really respect.”

Another potential addition? Ziggy Ansah. Before signing Dion Jordan during training camp, Ansah was looked at by the 49ers as another potential option. Jordan, the former third overall pick of the 2013 Draft, beat out Ansah, the fifth overall pick in that draft, discernibly due to the health concerns, per Ian Rapoport.

Ansah, according to Shanahan, will be brought in for a workout on Tuesday. He said he did not know whether a transaction was imminent.

 

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