San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel exited Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers with a shoulder injury. His return is questionable as the 49ers’ Super Bowl hopes may now hinge on the health of their top offensive weapon.
Injury Occurs in Second Quarter
The injury occurred in the second quarter on an end around run play. Samuel took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Packers safety Adrian Amos and fumbled the ball, which Green Bay recovered.
He was later seen grabbing his left shoulder on the sideline and went to the medical tent before heading to the locker room for further evaluation. The team initially announced he was being evaluated for a head injury, but later specified it was a shoulder injury.
The 49ers later ruled Samuel out for the remainder of the game just before halftime. His absence leaves a massive hole in San Francisco’s offense as they attempt to keep pace with league MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Samuel is 49ers’ Top Offensive Weapon
The versatile Samuel has been the driving force behind the 49ers’ offense all season. In the regular season, he racked up 1,748 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns while leading the team with 105 catches and 15 rushing attempts.
His unique skillset as both a wide receiver and running back makes him invaluable to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s creative schemes. The team has relied heavily on getting Samuel the ball quickly in space, whether through short passes, screens, sweeps, or reverses.
|Deebo Samuel 2022 Stats
Samuel played a key role in San Francisco’s wild card round upset over the Seattle Seahawks last week as well. He recorded 6 catches for 133 yards, including a 74-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Offense Struggles Without Samuel
Losing Samuel for the rest of this playoff contest deals a major blow to the 49ers’ chances. Backup wide receivers Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Danny Gray will be asked to step up in his absence. However, none possess the same game-changing talent.
So far in the first half without Samuel, San Francisco has struggled to string together productive drives. The running game has been bottled up, with the team mustering just 67 rushing yards. Young quarterback Brock Purdy is 15 of 19 but for only 107 yards, lacking the chunk plays Samuel typically provides.
The 49ers trail Green Bay 14-10 at halftime, having failed to match their 7th-ranked scoring output from the regular season without their top weapon. While the 49ers defense has kept them in the game, it will be a much tougher task to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers if Samuel cannot return.
Samuel’s Status Looms Large Going Forward
Looking ahead, Deebo Samuel’s health now becomes one of the biggest storylines surrounding the 49ers’ playoff run. If the injury keeps him out for any additional games, it would be a massive blow to their chances of reaching the Super Bowl.
San Francisco has dealt with devastating injuries in previous playoff runs. In 2020, the defending NFC champions saw their Super Bowl hopes dashed when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, defensive end Nick Bosa and several other starters suffered season-ending injuries.
Now, the 49ers face a similar crisis with Samuel sidelined. While Samuel said “I’ll be alright” when leaving the field, his official status remains uncertain in the short and long term.
If further tests reveal a serious shoulder injury that keeps Samuel out for any length of time, San Francisco would have to continue their playoff run without their most dynamic player. That could prove too difficult to overcome against the NFL’s elite teams.
The 49ers remain hopeful that Samuel may still return if this game remains close. But for now, his absence leaves this offense short-handed when they need him most. Time will tell if San Francisco’s season is doomed without their offensive catalyst Deebo Samuel.
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