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49ers' Deebo Samuel Expected to Return During Regular Season After Injury vs. Bucs

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 12, 2022

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown against Logan Ryan #26 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel has a chance to return to the field sooner than expected after his scary injury in Sunday's win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to ESPN's Nick Wagoner, Samuel suffered an MCL sprain in his knee as well as an ankle sprain, but the team expects him to be back at some point during the regular season.

The 26-year-old has caught 54 passes for 612 yards and two touchdowns. He's also rushed for 228 yards and three more scores on 41 carries.

On Sunday, Samuel went down on a three-yard run with just over five minutes remaining in the second quarter of his team's 35-7 win over the Buccaneers.

FOX Sports: NFL @NFLonFOX

Deebo Samuel is down and slow to get up after the last play after what appears to be a knee injury. <a href="https://t.co/uVPZJQ1VV6">pic.twitter.com/uVPZJQ1VV6</a>

Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area set the scene.

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Deebo Samuel was up, but in a great deal of discomfort, he went back down to the ground. Now, the cart is coming out for him.

He was carted off the field and greeted by many of his teammates as he left.

FOX Sports: NFL @NFLonFOX

Prayers up for Deebo 🙏 <a href="https://t.co/HMcAYSxocr">pic.twitter.com/HMcAYSxocr</a>

After the game, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan provided an update on Samuel's status, with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network providing context.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/49ers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#49ers</a> coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that WR Deebo Samuel most likely suffered a high-ankle sprain. If the MRI confirms that thought, those are generally 4-6 week injuries. The first round of the playoffs is 5 weeks from today.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also cited a source who said the injury was nothing major.

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalk

Per source on Deebo Samuel: "Ankle twisted up but doesn't seem to be major."

In 2021, Samuel was one of the most productive players in all of football, amassing 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns. His efforts helped guide the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game.

The former South Carolina star parlayed that campaign into a three-year, $71.6 million contract extension with $58.1 million guaranteed.

Samuel hasn't been as productive in 2022, but he's still done plenty for the first-place 49ers and will be sorely missed. He was notably enjoying an excellent game with 64 total yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay before departing.

The 49ers don't have a shortage of options even without Samuel. Running back Christian McCaffrey and tight end George Kittle could see more usage. Brandon Aiyuk should now be the team's No. 1 wide receiver while Samuel is out.

Wideouts Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCloud III could see more opportunities as well.