49ers’ Deebo Samuel doesn’t have a broken shoulder, status still uncertain for NFC Championship game
San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel’s status in this weekend’s NFC Championship game against the Detroit Lions remains uncertain, coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Samuel suffered a shoulder injury in his team’s 24-21 win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night, but the team said he did not suffer a fracture.
The 49ers said they hope to have a more firm idea of Samuel’s potential availability for the NFC title game by midweek.
“It wasn’t broken, so that was a really good sign,” Shanahan said of Samuel’s shoulder. “But it still hurts us a lot to have a good idea of how we will recover this week. So we have to be patient to see how he feels on Wednesday. And based on (whether it improves or not), we will see if he has a chance to play or not.”
The 49ers are currently formulating their offensive game plan. Wednesday is stabilization day during training and Thursday is the heaviest training of the week.
“If we know he’s not available, it makes it easier from a game planning standpoint,” Shanahan said. “But if there’s any chance, which I think we’ll have a better idea on Wednesday, there’s obviously going to be things in the (game plan) for him.”
The 49ers were happy with fill-in contributions from veteran receiver Chris Conley against the Packers. Conley threw a key block to running back Christian McCaffrey before catching a 17-yard catch from quarterback Brock Purdy on the game-winning drive.
“Conley — that’s why guys like him and Willie Snead are here,” Shanahan said.
Samuel left the NFC Divisional Round game twice before being ruled out with a shoulder injury to start the third quarter. The shoulder injury occurred midway through the first quarter, and it was initially questionable that he would return. At the start of the first half, he was seen without his shirt or shoulder pads and was quickly ruled out for the rest of the match.
He left for the first time during the first quarter after suffering a hard blow to his head. He entered the blue medical tent and cleared the concussion protocol before returning to the sideline.
Samuel’s day ended with two catches and 24 yards. He recorded 892 rushing yards and 225 receiving yards during the season, with a total of 12 touchdowns.
Losing Samuel midway through the game further frustrated the 49ers
Obviously, not having Samuel in the receiver rotation is bad for the 49ers. They lost all three games that he missed or couldn’t complete due to a shoulder injury in Week 6. But losing it early in the game, as was the case on Saturday, is worse. That led to all kinds of play-action challenges, Shanahan said, including one in which Juwan Jennings ended up lining up in the backfield and getting a carry. (Result: 1 yard loss).
What’s more, Purdy could have used Samuel on a day when the Packers were playing soft coverage and Purdy’s accuracy was off due to rain and a wet football. The play calls will likely be similar to the Week 3 calls when Purdy targeted Samuel 12 times against the New York Giants and Samuel finished with 129 yards. — Matt Barrows, 49ers beat writer
Samuel has extra motivation to play for the Lions
Samuel doesn’t need any extra motivation to play on Sunday. His team is in the NFC Championship for the third year in a row, after all, and the previous two games have ended in heartbreak for him and the 49ers. But there’s an extra layer of sizzle to the 49ers-Lions matchup given that Lions safety CJ Gardner Johnson, the former Eagles player, was feuding with Samuel Since the regular season.
“You better hope all this talking you’re doing when we see all of you, whatever the (playoff) round is… because I can guard you,” Gardner-Johnson said during an Instagram Live session. “You can’t run routes. You’re going backwards. You’re going backwards. I’m not going to sit here and play with you, little boy. ‘Just because you got a little bag, people give you a little leverage, and then you’re nothing, bro.’
Samuel is in the midst of a long-running feud with Philadelphia’s defenders over last year’s NFC Championship. That added some extra juice to the teams’ December 3 meeting this season. The red-hot Samuel finished with 138 total yards and three touchdowns in that game. — wheelbarrows
(Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)
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