49ers Samuel Sidelined By Strained Groin

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Earlier this evening Adam Schefter reported that 49ers’ star wideout Deebo Samuel will miss 1-2 weeks with a strained groin.

It could have been worse

Schefter’s tweet comes as good news, all things considered, as a MRI revealed the injury is not a serious one. Kyle Shanahan will feel relieved to only be without his star playmaker for a couple of weeks. Muscle injuries tend to linger, however, and the 49ers will want to play it safe with Samuel as they continue toward a potential playoff berth.

It will, however, be tempting to get Deebo Samuel back into the lineup. He has done a little bit of everything for San Francisco this year, and their offense will definitely miss him. Against the Vikings in Week 12, Samuel rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns, playing a key role in the 49ers’ dominant rushing performance.

How will this affect the San Francisco offense?

The 49ers have one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL, led by Samuel and starting running back Elijah Mitchell. This injury will shed light on how impactful Deebo Samuel is in the lineup. Mitchell is a formidable running back, but being able to give carries to a player who lines up both in the backfield and out wide adds a welcome amount of unpredictability to the offense. It will be interesting to see how (if at all) the play-calling changes for the 49ers.

Honestly, though, I don’t expect the 49ers’ offensive game plan to change a whole lot without Deebo. They will still focus on establishing their running game to set up manageable passing situations for Jimmy Garoppolo. I expect we’ll continue to see plenty of Elijah Mitchell, but with potentially increased work for Jeff Wilson. The philosophy in general won’t change, but Shanahan will need find a way to adjust to life without Deebo Samuel for a couple of weeks.

More opportunities for Brandon Aiyuk?

In a way, this is a silly question. With Samuel doing much more out of the backfield lately, Aiyuk has been targeted a lot more in the passing game. Against the Vikings, Brandon Aiyuk tied with Elijah Mitchell for the most targets on the team, six. Aiyuk has had increased volume lately, so one could argue that his increased opportunities have already started to present themselves. Additionally, we have to factor in the San Francisco passing game as a whole. During the 49ers’ three-game win streak over the Rams, Jaguars, and Vikings, Garoppolo threw only 19, 22, and 26 passes, respectively.

Further, they won the first two games by a lot more points by a lot more than they did against the Vikings. In other words, this team wants to run. All that being said, though, I do think there is a chance for Aiyuk to shine over the next couple of weeks. He will be the lead wideout in two tough road matchups at Seattle and at Cincinnati. This could be his chance to silence any lingering doubts about his ability or role within the offense, which were things definitely in question at the start of the season.

Not a horrible time for an injury

Let’s face it, injuries are the worst. There is nothing more disheartening than watching a top player miss any amount of time due to injury. But they happen quite frequently, to every team, and can sometimes happen at the worst of times.

So all things considered, San Francisco should again consider themselves lucky. Samuel will only miss a couple of weeks, and should be back in time to close out the regular season. If the 49ers continue to play as well as they have during their three-game win streak, then he’ll be back in time to make some noise in the playoffs.

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