49ers news: Jalen Hurd experiment finally ends way too late

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) /

Certainly, way later than it should have been, the 49ers finally parted ways with their 2019 third-round draft pick, Jalen Hurd, who never saw the field.

Wide receiver Jalen Hurd is no longer a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners officially announced they had waived Hurd from their injured reserve list, meaning there’s likely an injury settlement associated with the move, although those details have yet to be revealed.

If Hurd clears waivers, he’ll become a free agent and can subsequently sign with any team.

Hurd, a converted collegiate running back who transferred from the University of Tennessee to Baylor so he could play wide receiver, was a questionable pick by San Francisco in the 2019 NFL Draft. Selected in Round 3 that year, No. 67 overall, the initial thinking was the 49ers could use his 6-foot-4, 227-pound frame as an ideal mismatch weapon, a player who’d have the build of a tight end while playing at wide receiver with the abilities of a running back.

Nothing of the sort ever happened.

49ers watched injuries derail Jalen Hurd’s career

Hurd certainly flashed potential early on, particularly that 2019 preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in which he scored two touchdowns and looked every part the mismatch nightmare for which the Niners were hoping.

In that same game, though, he suffered a serious back injury that would shelve him on injured reserve for all of his rookie season, an injury so serious, he wasn’t even able to travel with the team to Miami, Florida, for Super Bowl LIV.

After redshirting his rookie campaign, Hurd was expected to make his contributions felt in 2020.

Except for an ACL tear put an end to those hopes.

Hurd teased a little bit entering 2021, getting onto the field for training camp practices at times and even making a scant few appearances during the preseason, yet he still drew criticisms from head coach Kyle Shanahan, who stuck with the proverbial “it’s tough to make the team if you’re not on the field.”

Hurd started off the year on IR, and Shanahan told reporters just days before the receiver was waived that he wasn’t expecting Hurd back this season.

Two days later, Hurd was waived after never stepping on the field for a regular-season snap.

Jalen Hurd another case of 49ers misallocating investments

Every team out there has NFL Draft misses. San Francisco isn’t immune to this, although the pain is certainly felt much more in Round 3 than it would be in Rounds 6 or 7.

But Hurd had injury concerns coming out of college, too, and the fact he was only recently a wide receiver convert meant he’d take a lot longer to develop at the NFL level even if he had stayed healthy.

Perhaps the 49ers can be excused a bit for exercising patience with Hurd after his initial back injury. And maybe, just maybe, they could have been excused again after he tore his ACL the following year.

When Hurd struggled to get healthy entering 2021, though, that should have been the Niners’ final call. Hurd had to initially make the 53-man roster at the end of the preseason this year to revert back to IR, ultimately costing another player a potential roster spot. And that doesn’t even account for the lost snaps and reps in training camp San Francisco spent on Hurd that could have gone towards another player vying to make an impact.

Chalk this one up as another lesson the 49ers need to learn.

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