Shanahan: 'We're hoping' but 'not counting on' Deebo Samuel to play Week 1

It’s too early to say whether Deebo Samuel will play in the season opener. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is still leaving the door open, though.

“We’re hoping for Week 1. Not counting on it,” Shanahan told reporters Saturday. “But I think that’s kind of the area these injuries usually heal by.”

Samuel is rehabbing from a Jones fracture suffered in June. Shanahan suggested how many practices the promising playmaker can partake in before the 49ers host the Cardinals on Sept. 13 will determine his status to begin the season.

While Samuel himself has expressed optimism about playing in the opener, general manager John Lynch acknowledged in late July that the second-year wideout “may miss some games.”

His long-term health is obviously the biggest priority. Samuel established himself as one of San Francisco’s top weapons during a dazzling rookie season, in which he tallied 802 receiving yards, 159 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and led the team in yards from scrimmage in the Super Bowl. He’ll need to be available for the long haul if the Niners are to make it back in 2021.

Samuel wasn’t the only notable 49er sidelined Saturday. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is out with what Shanahan described as back stiffness. He won’t practice the next few days but could return late next week. Wide receiver Jalen Hurd and tight end Jordan Reed were limited. WRs Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson, both of whom were signed this week, participated after passing COVID-19 protocols this week.

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