49ers wide receiver Richie James joins Deebo Samuel on the list of players who have been injured this offseason.
Maybe it’s time the San Francisco 49ers curtail some of the impromptu practice sessions players have been having during this unusual offseason.
Or at least break out the bubble wrap.
On Thursday, second-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a broken bone in his foot, which required surgery, and there’s speculation he could be out anywhere from eight to 16 weeks depending on his recovery.
Granted, the context and expected levels of production between these two players are vastly different. San Francisco is counting upon Samuel to be its top wide receiver entering 2020, while James remains on the fringes of the roster.
While Samuel boasted 802 receiving yards, leading his team at the position, James’ offensive efforts were limited to just 165 yards on six receptions, albeit with an impressive 27.5 yards per catch.
James also returned 33 punts and 20 kickoffs, averaging 8.0 yards and 21.4 yards, respectively.
The 49ers selected James in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. And while he hasn’t been known as a major offensive weapon in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system, James has found a bit of a niche on special teams.
Now, this injury could hinder his chances to make the Niners’ 53-man roster.
San Francisco bolstered its wide receiver room during the offseason by adding the veteran, Travis Benjamin, to go along with first-year rookies Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings. The team is also expecting injured wide receivers Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd to return back from yearlong absences in 2019.
Needless to say, the position is looking awfully crowded heading into training camp this year. And while Samuel is essentially guaranteed a spot on the roster, the same can’t be said for James.
If Garafolo’s report is correct, James would be able to return in the middle of the Niners’ 2020 preseason campaign, should it remain at the regularly scheduled four games. James will miss time in camp, though, and that doesn’t exactly bode well for him sticking around on the roster.
If James does, however, he should be available by the time the 49ers open up their regular-season campaign in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.