49ers news: Niners fear Jalen Hurd suffered torn ACL
By Peter Panacy
49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd is believed to have suffered a torn ACL in training camp, which is a tough break for the second-year pro.
The San Francisco 49ers‘ already-questionable wide receiver depth in training camp took yet another potential hit this week with second-year wide receiver Jalen Hurd falling to the ground during weekend individual drills.
Hurd, the Niners’ third-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, missed his rookie season with a serious back injury after flashing some promise with a two-touchdown game in San Francisco’s exhibition opener that year against the Dallas Cowboys. Yet his back injury was serious enough to prevent him from accompanying the team to Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Florida last February.
And now, it appears as if this latest injury is going to be yet another major hurdle.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the 49ers fear Hurd tore his ACL in those workout drills and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday morning:
Back in 2018, Niner Noise received some detailed medical analysis from our former site expert, Doug Totten, who was studying at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Totten detailed the two basic on-field tests the team likely conducted with Hurd shortly after his injury:
"If the 49ers docs think he has a torn ACL there’s almost zero chance it is anything else. The test is pretty accurate and precise for that.The ACL attaches from the back of your femur to the front of your tibia, or main lower leg bone. Hence if you are, for example, laying down with your knee at a 90-degree angle and the trainer can pull your lower leg forward (i.e. away from you and toward the trainer) significantly farther than is normal, it is almost certain that you have an ACL tear, especially when the test is done by a physician as well trained as anyone on the 49ers medical staff. This is called an “anterior drawer test.”A somewhat better test is the “Lachman test,” which is essentially the same thing but instead of 90 degrees the knee angle is about 20-30 degrees. I’m certain the 49ers training staff has done these tests."
These tests have a pretty good accuracy rating, and you can learn more about them here. Simply put, when a team fears an ACL tear, there’s a good chance that’s going to be the diagnosis.
One of Hurd’s goals was going to be staying healthy over the course of 2020, potentially using his sizable 6-foot-4 frame as a unique tool for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Now, it’s looking as if Hurd will be out of the picture for at least another season.
Potential shakeups for 49ers wide receiver depth chart
Hurd’s likely absence for another year isn’t good, of course. But it does open up some more opportunities for depth members on San Francisco’s wide receiver player’s chart, especially when combined with second-year wideout Deebo Samuel (foot) out for the immediate future.
One of the prime beneficiaries is the Niners’ seventh-round rookie, Jauan Jennings, whose 6-foot-3 frame isn’t unlike that of Hurd. Jennings, who broke 30 tackles on 59 receptions his final year at the University of Tennessee, doesn’t boast the speed Shanahan prefers for his wideouts. But as far as strength and the fit as a big slot go, Jennings could end up being quite the mismatch.
Now, Jennings stands a much better chance of making the 53-man roster.
The injury also creates a better chance for embattled wide receiver Dante Pettis, who went from a promising second-round pick in 2018 to being inactive for Super Bowl LIV. While Pettis and Hurd have entirely different skill sets, the Niners’ lack of proven commodities at wide receiver at least give Pettis another shot at impressing.
Especially if he receives more first- and second-team reps in training camp.
San Francisco is also bringing in additional wide receivers for workouts. It’s likely a free agent will be signed to at least occupy Hurd’s spot on the 80-man offseason roster, if anything just to ensure this particular unit has enough bodies to stack up in practices.
Overall, it’s a major setback for Hurd who was already a project receiver for Shanahan, and one can only hope the second-year veteran winds up bouncing back positively enough when that time comes.