What 49ers win vs. Raiders says about Jalen Hurd’s roster chances

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd (14) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd (14) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers gave oft-injured wide receiver Jalen Hurd plenty of opportunities in their preseason win over the Raiders, but Hurd left a lot to be desired.

The San Francisco 49ers were dominant during their 34-10 preseason-finale win against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

One player who wasn’t dominant, however, was third-year wide receiver Jalen Hurd.

Hurd’s journey to this point has been odyssey-like. A former collegiate running back, turned wide receiver whom the Niners selected in Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft, the first two years of Hurd’s pro career have been marked by serious injuries that kept him from everything but one preseason outing his rookie year before being beset by a back injury, then again by an ACL tear in training camp early in 2020.

Furthermore, knee issues have kept Hurd from partaking in much of training camp and even forced him out of San Francisco’s two preseason games before the Raiders came to town.

Before the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan seemed to indicate Hurd was one of the 49ers’ six best receivers on their preseason roster, which says a lot considering Hurd has yet to experience a regular-season snap despite being in year three of his pro career.

But if there ever was a chance for Hurd to solidify his role on a wide receiver depth chart that’s awfully fluid between spot Nos. 4 through 6, it was against Las Vegas.

Drops hindered Jalen Hurd’s roster chances with 49ers

They’ve been a theme all preseason. But the fact Hurd is now one of the latest to drop passes from rookie quarterback Trey Lance won’t bode well for the former’s roster chances in 2021.

Hurd’s stat line is quite misleading. He had four catches for 25 yards and a long of 13 on six targets, which would be an OK showing in an exhibition bout when players are regularly rotating in and out of the offensive formation.

But those two missed passes were drops, one of which would have been a great completion on a deep pass down the left side of the field. Lance put the ball where Hurd should have used his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage. And while it appeared as if the Raiders defender might have tipped it slightly, it’s a pass Hurd had to haul in.

Even then, Lance and the Niners gave Hurd another chance a few plays later, at at least Hurd responded with a first-down grab:

Still, Hurd had another drop early in the third quarter. And just like that, his roster chances probably dropped, too.

49ers still have depth questions at wide receiver, will that save Jalen Hurd?

While the situation still remains fluid, Hurd isn’t completely relegated to the side of “guaranteed cuts” in advance of Tuesday’s deadline.

Wide receiver and return specialist Richie James was waived with an injury designation, second-year wideout Jauan Jennings also struggled with drops, losing a pass from Lance that would have been a touchdown, and veteran receiver Travis Benjamin also left the game with a reported head injury.

If San Francisco is still planning on keeping six wide receivers on the 53-man roster, Hurd could still be in the mix. And even though Hurd didn’t flash the explosiveness with the ball in his hands, the likely trait that helped him get drafted in Round 3 over two years ago, one might consider it a small victory Hurd was able to work his way back onto the field.

Like Lance, Hurd hasn’t exactly played a lot of football in the last year-plus.

Related Story: Kyle Shanahan says Jalen Hurd doesn’t have ‘a lot of time left’

At the same time, though, Hurd doesn’t have much to go on aside from his college tape and his draft laurels. As much as it wouldn’t be shocking to see the 49ers give Hurd one more chance by naming him to the 53-man roster, it would be equally as non-surprising to see Hurd waived to make room for someone with a cleaner bill of health.

Perhaps a player like Jennings or even someone with return capabilities, too, like Nsimba Webster or River Cracraft.

Either way, Hurd had his chance to make his case, and it unfortunately didn’t go anywhere near to being as good as it should have been.

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