SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel missed most of Saturday night’s NFC divisional round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers with a left shoulder injury, and the team isn’t sure how long it will be without its versatile star.
Samuel is slated for more tests on the shoulder Sunday, and the Niners are hoping he didn’t suffer the same injury — a hairline fracture in the shoulder — that he did in a Week 6 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
He told some members of the organization that he was “OK,” sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“I don’t know yet,” coach Kyle Shanahan said when asked about Samuel’s injury. “I mean he tried to come back [but] couldn’t do it. I know he did something similar versus Cleveland.”
The Niners’ 24-21 win against the Packers propelled them into the NFC Championship Game set for Jan. 28 at Levi’s Stadium.One source, when asked if he believed Samuel had a chance to play, told Schefter, “Yes, I do.”
After making a catch over the middle from 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy with 5:35 left in the opening quarter, Samuel was battling for more yards when multiple Packers defenders converged on him.
Samuel’s forward progress was stopped, but he remained down on the field after the play and received medical attention. Initially, Samuel was evaluated for a concussion, but he was quickly cleared to return.
That didn’t last long, though, as Samuel went to San Francisco’s locker room multiple times for further testing on his shoulder. He returned to the Niners’ locker room at the two-minute warning, and when he came back out for the second half, he was wearing street clothes. Moments later, Samuel was officially ruled out.
As Shanahan pointed out, it’s the second shoulder injury Samuel has dealt with this season. The shoulder injury he suffered against the Browns kept him out for two games and the bye. He returned in a Week 10 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the regular season, the 49ers averaged 7.1 yards per play with Samuel on the field. That number dropped to 5.7 yards per play when he was not on the field.
“Deebo is a fantastic football player,” tight end George Kittle said. “He’s amazing, especially the things that we ask him to do. When Deebo is in there and you match him with Christian [McCaffrey] and switch them around and stuff like that, it makes our offense what I think is different than any other offense in the NFL. So, am I concerned about him not playing next week? Yeah. We’re a different team without Deebo.”
Samuel had two catches for 24 yards before departing. With Samuel out, Jauan Jennings stepped into his spot with Ray-Ray McCloud III working as the slot receiver in Jennings’ usual spot. It was Jennings who delivered the most in Samuel’s place, finishing with five catches for 61 yards on six targets, including multiple key first-down grabs in traffic.
Jennings even got a carry that would have normally been earmarked for Samuel, though Shanahan indicated the result of a miscommunication.
“[Losing Deebo] changes a lot of stuff, especially when you have wristbands and things like that and you’ve got to switch some guys around, which is always a challenge for those guys,” Shanahan said. “It happened during the Cleveland game, and we didn’t handle it that well. I thought we handled it better today than we did then, but it is a huge challenge. Deebo is obviously one of our better players, but he also is a unique guy that goes to some certain spots that you’ve got to be adjusting to all game.”
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