Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Sunday brought more injuries for the 49ers to work through and one of them is a player who is irreplaceable. Deebo Samuel and Jeff Wilson Jr. will both be sidelined this week and beyond.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that Samuel, who suffered a hamstring strain will miss this Sunday’s game at Seattle and is likely to miss the Thursday night game against the Green Bay Packers. It doesn’t seem likely at this juncture, at least, that he will head to injured reserve. Still, even two weeks without Samuel is a massive loss. The 49ers have no 1-for-1 replacement for him and Dante Pettis (benched for his third-straight game) clearly is not physical enough, nor trusted enough to take on that role.
Over the last two games, Samuel has a combined 15 touches for 132 yards and one TD, with most of them coming in the backfield. He has, by far, the lowest air yard target distance in the NFL, at 2.3 yards. Evan Engram is second-lowest, at 5.1 yards. Samuel is consistently getting the ball behind the scrimmage, to the point that he lined up as a tailback multiple times on Sunday. His absence will be felt.
Richie James Jr. suffered a sprained ankle and will be day-to-day. If there ever is a time for one last dance with Dante Pettis, it’s now. The last time he had a touchdown was Halloween last year. Sunday’s game against Seattle would be the day after. Maybe that means something (it doesn’t).
Jeff Wilson Jr. is expected to be out “a month,” Shanahan said, and will be placed on injured reserve, ruling him out at least three weeks. Shanahan is hoping for Tevin Coleman’s return this week, though he was not optimistic last week. He likely will not practice Wednesday, and will be a “late-week” decision.