San Francisco 49er’s Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel has undergone surgery to repair a Jones fracture. The injury occurred during a throwing session with teammates earlier last week in Nashville. Samuel was a solid contributor during his rookie campaign in 2019. He had 57 receptions for 802 yards and three touchdowns while adding another 159 yards rushing. 

A jones fracture can take 12 weeks to fully heal after surgery. The injury doesn’t put Samuel’s career in jeopardy, but it does potentially put early season games at risk. Athletes typically have a small chance of reinjury within their first few weeks of full contact, but very few players lose an entire season due to this injury. The team says it expects Samuel to be ready for their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium on September 13th.

It’s worth noting, if Deebo Samuel’s foot injury lingers into the early part of the season then several players should see additional usage. Brandon Aiyuk was drafted 25th overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft by San Francisco. Aiyuk is an unproven rookie at the position, but does have a much larger opportunity for early season snaps. 

Kendrick Bourne is another player who should see additional playing time with a prolonged absence by Samuel. Over the last two seasons, Bourne has totaled 72 receptions for 845 yards and 9 touchdowns. While those are combined 2018 and 2019 statistics, they are on a total of 110 targets while playing as the fourth and sometimes fifth option for 49ers’ quarterbacks. 

From Fantasy Intervention, a contributor to Dynasty Happy Hour:

“Kendrick Bourne is a [touchdown] magnet. He scored [double digit] points and a [touchdown] in 3/4 games where he saw at least 59% of the snap share. The one he didn’t was the rainstorm where Garoppolo threw for a total of 151 yards. Bourne had 69 of those yards and scored 9.9 points that week.”

Kendrick Bourne could be a strong value as a buy low candidate especially earlier in the 2020 season. I’d recommend taking a flier on Bourne to excel not only while Samuel recovers, but as a deep sleeper trade candidate in dynasty leagues and late round target in startups and redraft leagues.

Jalen Hurd is another highly drafted wide receiver in San Francisco. Hurd was selected in the third round during the 2019 draft. His skill set most resembles Samuel’s abilities because he played running back and wide receiver in college at the University of Tennessee and Baylor. Hurd was injured all of his rookie season, but could carve out a larger role simply on his athleticism and opportunity this year. He’s worth acquiring in leagues late in startups and for a late third round rookie pick in dynasty formats only.

Another interesting player isn’t a wide receiver, but a tight end. Ross Dwelley showed flashes with George Kittle out. Dwelley turned the opportunity into four catches and two touchdowns against Arizona during a November 17 matchup. Kittle appears to be completely healthy for the start of the season, but San Francisco had a 52 percent success rate when running 22 personnel sets, as reported by Sports Illustrated. 22 personnel are two tight ends, two running backs, and one wide receiver. San Francisco drafted Charlie Woerner from the University of Georgia in the sixth round, but it’s unlikely the team will hand over early-season snaps to an unproven young tight end when they already have Kittle and Dwelley capable of fulfilling the team's needs. I’m not arguing that Dwelley will be a TE1, but the additional early-season usage could make him a dynasty trade asset for an owner to flip and accrue greater value. It’s worth taking a chance in deeper tight end premium leagues and as a flier in daily fantasy if Kittle were to also miss any time.

Jerick McKinnon may also see some additional targets early on in the season. If you’re a McKinnon owner in dynasty formats, you’re looking for any way to get value from the once promising running back. If McKinnon performs early in the season, I’d sell the 28-year-old quickly!

There have been rumors that San Francisco would make a move for Antonio Brown as well. These are all early rumors which are more wishful thinking than material connection. However, the 31 year-old, seven time Pro Bowl receiver makes a lot of sense for San Francisco. Any of this would greatly depend on Brown’s availability at the beginning of the season as he likely faces a suspension by the NFL at some point upon his return. This is all just conjecture and hearsay at present though.

Reality should quickly set in for the 49ers offense if Samuel misses extended time early in the season. They are designed to run the ball and use short to intermediate passes to open the field up even more. This style of play breeds success for George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and the newly acquired Brandon Aiyuk. 

Kittle would become even more valuable to a contender in dynasty leagues, and would most likely finish as the top tight end overall in 2020, if Samuel misses multiple games with injury. 

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