49ers WR Shawn Poindexter a potential X-factor in 2020

Shawn Poindexter #19 from Arizona (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Shawn Poindexter #19 from Arizona (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The 49ers lost wide receiver Shawn Poindexter to an injury during the 2019 preseason, yet he might play a dark-horse role in 2020.

While the majority of focus for the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver corps in 2020 is focusing on the bigger names, such as Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, hardly any attention is being given to a second-year player who could end up providing something of an impact.

Wide receiver Shawn Poindexter missed a chance at his rookie campaign after going undrafted last year out of Arizona, suffering a torn ACL in the Niners’ second preseason game of 2019 against the Denver Broncos.

Up to that point, the 6-foot-5, 213-pound wideout gave something head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t have too much of at the position: size.

Poindexter made a notable mark at the college level, particularly in 2018 when he recorded 759 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns:

Shawn Poindexter Receiving & Rushing Table

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 7/22/2020.

But those numbers won’t automatically translate over to success at the pro level. The Niners not having offseason workouts before training camp, combined with zero preseason, also hurts Poindexter’s chances.

Yet his build could end up providing San Francisco with that size element, making him a player to watch this training camp and a focal point for Niner Noise’s annual “Who Is?” series.

Why Shawn Poindexter improves with 49ers in 2020

The Niners weren’t particularly great in red-zone situations last year, converting just over 55 percent of these situations into touchdowns, which ranked 20th in the league.

Poindexter’s size automatically makes him a red-zone threat. If he capitalizes on it, even if his route running is relatively poor, it could put him in a position to seize one of those back-end spots on San Francisco’s 53-man roster.

Why Shawn Poindexter regresses with 49ers in 2020

Not having a preseason hurts. So do the lack of minicamps and organized team activities.

Poindexter coming off an ACL tear is a concern, yes. But it’s equally going to be as challenging for him to fight off Hurd and another big-bodied wideout, Jauan Jennings, whom the 49ers selected with their final pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

San Francisco has far more invested in both Hurd and Jennings at this point, meaning Poindexter will have to outcompete both players by a wide margin to stand a remote chance.

Chances of making 49ers’ 53-man roster

Despite Poindexter being a worth red-zone target, the presence of both Hurd and Jennings doesn’t bode well for the second-year pro’s prospects of hanging around into September. The Niners wide receiver room is already crowded enough. And even with offseason injuries to Samuel (foot) and fellow wide receiver Richie James (wrist), there are enough bodies ahead of Poindexter to suggest he’s on the weakest portions of the roster bubble.

It’s possible, however, the 49ers look to stash Poindexter on the practice squad this season, potentially guarding against any serious injury to Hurd and/or Jennings.

That might be Poindexter’s best bet in 2020.

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In that light, though, Poindexter could be that emergency call-up this season, should the Niners suffer some sort of injury here and find themselves hurting in red-zone situations again this season.