49ers have zero need to play injured Deebo Samuel vs. Raiders

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

11-4. Fox. Sunday, Jan. 1. 6-9. 49ers -9.5. 42. 28. 4:05 p.m. ET

There seemed to be a solid chance for the 49ers to have Deebo Samuel back from injury against the Raiders, but he’ll miss the game with good reason.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers welcomed back All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel to practice.

This was quite the development, especially after Samuel suffered what appeared to be an awfully serious injury back in Week 14’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As he was being carted off the field, fans and players alike had to wonder whether or not his injuries were of the season-ending variety.

Turns out, they were only going to keep him out a few weeks.

Yet Samuel, despite returning to the practice field for the final two days of the week before Sunday’s contest against the Las Vegas Raiders, was ultimately ruled out by head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Nope, no Deebo against Vegas.

This is obviously disappointing news for Samuel, who’ll obviously want to improve upon what’s been something of a letdown campaign this year after his 1,770 all-purpose-yard effort in 2021 that netted him the All-Pro accolade. And it’ll be disappointing for fantasy football owners, too, who are likely competing in their league’s championships this weekend.

However, it’s the right call for Shanahan to make.

49ers are smart to let Deebo Samuel rest, not play him vs. Raiders

Samuel was likely close enough to play this Sunday. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have suited up and participated in practice.

However, the knee and ankle injuries he suffered against the Bucs are probably not 100-percent healed. Had they been, Samuel would have been cleared to play against Vegas.

Ruling Samuel out of the game because he’s not fully recovered is something that jives with what Shanahan said not long after the Niners clinched the NFC West in Week 15, namely when he said, “anybody who has an injury that could risk them for the following week or something like that… definitely rest them.”

Shanahan is exercising that point with Samuel right now. His star receiver is on the fringe of being healthy but not quite there yet.

At worse, San Francisco will be the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoff picture. While the No. 1 seed is still in play, swapping places with the two-seeded Minnesota Vikings is much more realistic, and a victory over the Raiders on Sunday could help move the 49ers up a spot, provided Minnesota loses to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Would that scenario be worth risking further injury to Samuel, though, especially if the Vikings are favored over Green Bay?

Probably not.

The Samuel-less Niners kick off against the Raiders on Sunday, Jan. 1 at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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