The 49ers added depth to their receiving corps on Saturday with the signings of veteran wideouts Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson. With Deebo Samuel rehabbing a foot injury, San Francisco sought after experienced options that could be relied on should the second-year receiver not be on hand for the season opener.
Samuel suffered a stress fracture in his left foot back in June that is expected to sideline him for roughly 12-16 weeks. Despite his own target return date, a 12-week timeline would have the receiver narrowly available ahead of Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals set for Sept. 13.
Given the nature of the injury, stress fractures heal at varying rates. Teammate Trent Taylor missed all of the 2019 season due to complications with the healing of a similar injury.
As the 49ers continue to monitor the standout receiver, Kyle Shanahan feels hopeful that Samuel's return could be on the earlier end of the spectrum.
"In my mind, I think we're hoping for Week 1, (but I'm) not counting on it," Shanahan said. "That's kind of the area these injuries heal by. A lot has to do with, 'are you ready to play? Are you fully healed by that time? Are you in football shape?'"
Samuel has continued to grind in his hopeful return to the field. If you follow him on social media, you can already see the receiver making significant strides on his surgically repaired foot. Still, once cleared to return to the field, Samuel will have to ramp up to be game-ready. By observing his efforts from afar, its likely to be a welcomed challenge for the second-year receiver.
"Deebo's going to do everything he can to be in shape, but it's hard to be in football shape until you can play football," Shanahan added. "So, how many practices do we get him in here before Arizona? That's going to all go into play. I'm hoping for Week 1, but not sure yet. It's still too early."
For observations and a recap from Day 1 at #49ersCamp, visit here.