Is Deebo Samuel playing vs. Lions? Latest news, injury updates on 49ers WR’s status for NFC championship game

The 49ers are one win away from making it to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2020 NFL playoffs. But San Francisco may have to get there without one of its top pass-catching weapons.

Deebo Samuel suffered a shoulder injury in the 49ers’ 24-21 win over the Packers in the divisional round, and the star wide receiver’s status for the NFC championship game is now uncertain.

Samuel’s status could have a big impact on San Francisco’s offense. The team lost both of the games he missed earlier in the season due to a shoulder injury and only narrowly beat the Packers last week as Samuel played nine snaps before his injury.

The Lions have a weak cornerback group, so the 49ers may still be able to have success against Detroit if Samuel can’t play. But the team’s offense surely will be in better shape if the fifth-year wideout suits up in the team’s most important game of the season.

POWER RANKINGS: How the 49ers, Chiefs, Ravens & Lions can win the Super Bowl

Here’s what to know about Samuel’s status ahead of Sunday’s NFC championship game between the 49ers and Lions.

Is Deebo Samuel playing vs. Lions?

Samuel returned to 49ers practice on Thursday, logging a limited session after failing to participate in the team’s first practice of the week on Wednesday.

Kyle Shanahan had provided an encouraging update on Samuel’s status at Wednesday’s practice.

“He feels better,” Shanahan said of Samuel, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco.

Shanahan was then asked if Samuel’s condition makes him more optimistic that the wideout can play against the Lions. His response?

“It makes me feel better,” Shanahan said.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier in the week that the 49ers consider Samuel’s status for the NFC championship game as “50-50,”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport offered similar reporting on the injury, saying that Samuel’s status was “up in the air” as of Monday.

However, Rapoport also noted that there is “guarded optimism” about Samuel’s shoulder as he looks to get on the field against the Lions.

“The belief is this is not a major injury,” Rapoport said. “Samuel got to work on rehab right after it happened and has been telling people that he thinks that he will be OK.”

Now, Samuel has at least returned to the practice field. The only question is whether he will be upgraded to full participation on Friday or if he will be limited once again to close the week.

IYER: 49ers vs. Lions picks, predictions against spread for NFC championship game

What is Deebo Samuel’s injury?

Samuel is dealing with a shoulder injury that he suffered against the Packers. The veteran receiver exited twice in the early stages of the game, first being evaluated for possible concussion and later for his shoulder injury.

Samuel passed the concussion check but he was unable to return from the shoulder injury. He played just nine snaps for the 49ers — 14% of their offensive total — before exiting the game for good.

There was some fear that Samuel might have had a recurrence of the shoulder injury he had suffered earlier in the season, a hairline fracture that caused him to miss two games. But Rapoport reported Monday that Samuel’s X-rays had come up negative.

“He had a battery of tests [Sunday] morning,” Rapoport said on NFL Network. “My understanding is that there is no fracture in the shoulder of Deebo Samuel, which is good news. It was actually the same shoulder that he injured last time. Had a hairline fracture, missed couple of games. Did all the tests this time [and] they believe there’s no fracture this time.”

That, coupled with the report that the 49ers aren’t viewing the injury as major, should give San Francisco fans hope that Samuel can see the field against the Lions. And if he comes up short, he should be on track to play in the Super Bowl should the 49ers make it that far.

MORE: Why 2024 Super Bowl logo colors might predict a 49ers vs. Ravens rematch

49ers WR depth chart

The 49ers currently have six wide receivers on their 53-man roster. Below is a look at how they stack up on the team’s depth chart:

Rank Player
1 Brandon Aiyuk
2 Deebo Samuel
3 Jauan Jennings
4 Chris Conley
5 Ray-Ray McCloud
6 Ronnie Bell

If Samuel is unable to play, that would result in Jennings taking on a larger role, as he did against the Packers. The fourth-year player recorded five catches for 61 yards against the Packers and has the size needed on his 6-3 frame to be a solid complement to Aiyuk. He might not have Samuel’s contact balance or elusiveness, but he can still be a fine weapon for Brock Purdy.

Beyond Jennings, Conley and McCloud would see more work. Conley is another big-bodied receiver who could spell Jennings or play next to him to create size mismatches against the Lions’ defensive backs. McCloud could be called upon to add a speed element and execute some of the jet sweep running plays that Jennings and Conley aren’t as suited to execute.

Bell was inactive for the 49ers’ game against the Packers, but he would likely get a chance to play if Samuel can’t. The rookie from Michigan had six catches for 68 yards and three touchdowns in limited action throughout his first NFL season.

The 49ers could also call up veteran receiver Willie Snead from the practice squad should they want to operate with more experience in place of Samuel. Tay Martin is also on San Francisco’s practice squad.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *