49ers: 3 players who benefit from Jalen Hurd injury

Jalen Hurd #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jalen Hurd #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Dante Pettis, 49ers
Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

No. 2: WR Dante Pettis

Even though I ended up putting him on my post-opt-out 53-man roster prediction, there is nothing certain about third-year receiver Dante Pettis’ place on the 2020 49ers roster.

Taken in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Pettis closed out his rookie season on a high but essentially fell off the face of the earth during most of last season before being a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl in February.

It’s gotten to the point where heading into his third season in the league, Pettis’ future is in jeopardy. This was especially true during the beginning of the summer when the drafting of former Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk, late-season emergence of Deebo Samuel, and the returns of injured players like Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor planted Pettis firmly on the roster bubble.

Even with Hurd out for the year and Samuel’s availability for the beginning of the year in question, the wide receiver competition looks pretty stiff.

Samuel will either start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list or make the roster while being inactive for the first several weeks, depending on where his surgically operated foot is leading into the season. But even if he’s destined for the PUP list, that roster spot will short-lived at best.

From there, Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Taylor, and Hurd were considered locks heading into training camp. That makes five locks out of six, maybe seven wide receiver slots, one of which is now open due to Hurd’s injury.

The 49ers have brought in a few veterans to fill the training camp roster, signing former Arizona Cardinal J.J. Nelson and former St. Louis/Los Angeles Ram and Dallas Cowboy Tavon Austin in recent weeks. Not to mention the existence of players like Shawn Poindexter, Richie James, and rookie Jauan Jennings (more on him in a moment).

Adding Pettis to that list means there are maybe two roster slots (or three if Samuel goes on the PUP) to be fought over among six players, and it could be as few as one single place on the roster.

So while Hurd’s injury doesn’t guarantee Pettis will make the team, his having been handpicked by Kyle Shanahan just a few years ago could help his cause. The door is open for him to get back into the good graces of the team.