Deebo Samuel is back.
The San Francisco 49ers‘ star wide receiver returned to practice Thursday after dealing with knee and ankle ailments. He last played in the Niners’ Week 14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, exiting in the second quarter with knee and ankle injuries.
On Friday, Samuel was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Raiders, with Kyle Shanahan stating there’s “a chance” he’ll play in next week’s regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.
Of course, having Samuel healthy for the postseason is the top priority. The 49ers are the hottest team in football, having won eight in a row and already clinching the NFC West. They currently hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC, sitting one game behind the Minnesota Vikings.
Not only would Samuel add to the Niners’ stockpile of skill players helping rookie starting quarterback Brock Purdy, but he remains one of the NFL‘s most dangerous weapons. Despite missing three full games in 2022, only teammate Christian McCaffrey and the Chargers‘ Austin Ekeler have more receiving yards (612) and rushing yards (228) than Samuel.
In 2021, Samuel earned All-Pro honors after becoming the first player in league history to top 1,400 receiving yards and 300 rushing yards in the same season, while also setting a record with eight rushing touchdowns by a wideout. He added another 291 yards from scrimmage in three playoff games.
If the 49ers are going to make another deep run, Samuel might be as important as anyone.
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