The San Francisco 49ers have not had a great offseason at the receiver position.
Emmanuel Sanders left in free agency to join the New Orleans Saints.
Deebo Samuel broke his left foot in June and might not be able to return for the start of the season.
Travis Benjamin opted out due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jalen Hurd, who fans expected to have a crucial role in the offense, tore his ACL this past Sunday.
In response to these losses, the 49ers recently added a trio of players to the roster.
49ers are signing former Seahawks’ WR Jaron Brown, per source. Brown joins JJ Nelson and Tavon Austin as the third WR to sign with SF since camp opened. SF lost WR Jalen Hurd earlier this week to a season-ending torn ACL.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2020
In J.J. Nelson and Tavon Austin, San Francisco got itself two speedy receivers that Kyle Shanahan has always admired.
“It was awesome to bring in two guys like J.J. and Tavon, two guys who are NFL players who have done things in this league and two guys we’ve always liked,” Shanahan said. “We needed to get some more guys in, just for legs, but the fact we got two guys in who have the ability to make our roster, who could have roles on this team with both of their skill assets, made me very excited to get them.”
Interestingly enough, all three of these receivers have had previous stops in the NFC West.
The Rams, who were still in St. Louis at the time, selected Austin eighth overall in the 2013 draft.
Brown signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cardinals in 2013, and also played for the Seattle Seahawks.
Nelson played for the Arizona Cardinals for four years after being taken in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
Though none of them were able to have enough of an impact elsewhere, they now have the opportunity to contribute to a Super Bowl-contender.
Austin cemented his status as a top prospect with his blazing 4.34 40 yard time at the 2013 NFL Combine.
Nelson managed to top that figure just two years later with a combine-best 4.28 in the event.
Jaron Brown is no slouch either, recording a 4.4 40 yard time at the same combine as Austin.
At 6’3″, though, Brown provides a size advantage that the other two receivers can not match.
This likely means Brown would compete for the vacancy left by the 6’5″ Hurd.
Austin and Nelson are smaller in stature but have elite athletic traits.
Therefore, they would attempt to fill the role of Samuel, who is also adept at creating yards after the catch.
Status Updates on Samuel and Hurd
Samuel suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot while training in Nashville two months ago.
He underwent successful surgery and assured fans that he would be back before the regular season.
10 weeks I’m back better than the deebo you seen before 🙏🏾
— Deebo (@19problemz) June 18, 2020
Here’s Deebo Samuel running sprints as he works his way back from a Jones fracture in June. #49ers
— 49ers Webzone (@49erswebzone) August 20, 2020
Shanahan was optimistic that his receiver could return for their Week 1 matchup against Arizona but did not give a definitive timetable.
“Deebo’s going to do anything he can to be in shape, but it’s hard to be in football shape until you can play football,” he said. “So how many practices can we get him in here before Arizona? That’s going to all go into play, so I’m hoping for Week 1. But not sure yet.”
These signings are especially indicative that the team wants to be cautious with his rehabilitation process.
After all, teammate Trent Taylor had the same injury as Samuel last year and missed the whole 2019 campaign.
As for Hurd, his torn ACL at practice this past Sunday all but ensures another lost season.
In an interview on Monday with San Francisco-based radio station KNBR, Hurd’s agent Doug Hendrickson gave an update about his client.
“It was a fluke thing, his knee just kind of gave out on an on-the-side route [running] drill,” Hendrickson said. “It sucks for Jalen, he’s been bummed about it…now he’s just gotta pick up the pieces and get back out there.”
Hurd finds himself on the IR for the second year in a row after he missed all of 2019 to a back injury.
Of all the NFL injuries, the Jalen Hurd ACL is such a crusher. He would be a major star in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Now it's two ruined seasons. Hope he's able to come back in 2021.
— Peter King (@peter_king) August 18, 2020
There were high hopes for the second-receiver to thrive as a dynamic weapon in Shanahan’s offense.
Fans and the team will have to wait at least another year before Hurd can make his professional debut.NEXT: 49ers TE George Kittle Continues To Shatter Records