The 2020 offseason has been quite a bit different for NFL teams than usual, but unfortunately, this time of year has brought with it something that we almost always see during the summer: a major injury to an important player on a presumptive contender.
According to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel broke his foot during a workout earlier this week and will have surgery to repair the injury. Samuel suffered a Jones fracture, per Rapoport, and will be out for 12 to 16 weeks as he recovers. ESPN's Nick Wagoner reports the 49ers have confirmed the injury but will wait to determine a timetable until after the team returns for training camp.
That timeline means Samuel will return for the beginning of the regular season (Sept. 13) at the absolute earliest, and given both Samuel's importance to the offense and the Niners' probability of making the playoffs, the team seems likely to play things conservatively so as to not jeopardize his availability for the postseason or his seemingly very bright future. Jones fractures have tended to be particularly bothersome for wide receivers in the past, and studies have shown that nearly half of football players who suffer the injury demonstrate incomplete healing.
Samuel, the No. 36 overall pick in last year's draft, made a major impact on the San Francisco offense as a rookie. He caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three scores while also adding 159 yards and three more touchdowns with his 14 carries. Samuel was a key contributor in the team's Super Bowl run as well, catching 10 passes for 127 yards while also carrying six times for 102 yards in the postseason.
With Emmanuel Sanders leaving in free agency, Samuel looked set to open the season as the Niners' No. 1 wide receiver, and seemed likely to emerge as one of Jimmy Garoppolo's primary options alongside George Kittle. For as long as he's sidelined, more work will presumably fall to 2020 first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk, as well as holdovers Kendrick Bourne and 2019 third-rounder Jalen Hurd, who missed all of last season due to injury.