After getting close to full participation in 49ers training camp, Jalen Hurd has suffered another setback in his injury recovery from a torn ACL.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd can’t seem to catch a break.
The longer Hurd goes into his NFL career without even playing a regular-season snap yet, the louder the chorus of “what could have been?” comments will echo.
And right now, there have to be a lot of them already.
Hurd, the Niners’ third-round draft pick out of Baylor back in 2019, impressed during his inaugural preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys, scoring two touchdowns in the process and flashing every part of his 6-foot-4 frame that was supposed to be a mismatch nightmare.
Yet that proved to be Hurd’s only appearance during any kind of NFL game, as he suffered a serious back injury that prematurely ended his rookie season.
Looking to rebound the following year, Hurd subsequently tore his ACL during training camp in 2020, ending that season’s effort, too.
“We know the potential that he has. … But he’s got to show that. And there’s not a lot of time left.” — Kyle Shanahan on Jalen Hurd
Needless to say, 2021 was going to be crucial for him to turn his injury fate around. By the looks of it, though, it’s not happening anytime soon.
49ers injuries: Kyle Shanahan provides grim updates on Jalen Hurd
Hurd spent the bulk of organized team activities last spring rehabbing with trainers, not exactly partaking in full-team drills. While the receiver was able to participate in some one-on-one drills early in training camp, head coach Kyle Shanahan provided a not-so-encouraging update to reporters after Hurd was once again sidelined with a setback to his knee.
Shanahan’s words to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch:
I know he’s battling back from a serious injury. We know the potential that he has, and the upside, and how much we think he can help us. But he’s got to show that. And there’s not a lot of time left.
San Francisco is counting down the final days of training camp before its preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Aug. 14.
Hurd was expected to compete for what’s essentially a wide-open competition for the tertiary wide receiver role behind the starters, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. As of now, fellow wide receiver Trent Sherfield appears to be separating from the pack, although there are likely three other roster spots up for grabs.
Based on Shanahan’s latest comments, it’s not looking good for Hurd to make the cut.
Yet the head coach still had some cautious optimism:
I know some things were bothering him [on Tuesday]. We were smart with him. But hopefully he can get in a groove where he has a chance to go out there and play some football and give himself a chance to make this team.
If Hurd can rediscover his health, he’ll have just over a month before the 49ers kick off their regular-season campaign with a road contest against the Detroit Lions.
What fate awaits Jalen Hurd with 49ers?
If Hurd’s latest injury setback isn’t considered too serious, there’s always the possibility the Niners stash him on some sort of injury list at the start of the regular season.
Should Hurd wind up on the physically unable-to-perform (PUP) list and stay there until the end of the preseason, San Francisco would have the option to place him on the reserve PUP list ahead of Week 1, not taking up a roster spot but eliminating the possibility of him being activated for the first six weeks of the season.
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Short-term injured reserve could be feasible, too, and the NFL will retain the three-week period adopted last year.
Yet it’s equally possible if his health doesn’t improve, the 49ers elect to waive Hurd with an injury settlement, essentially giving up on the hype and hope that’s surrounded him the last two years in spite of his unfortunate history.
Right now, that fate is entirely up in the air, and the next few weeks could ultimately say a lot about the talented-yet-injured receiver’s long-term future within the league.