San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a broken foot on Tuesday during a players-only throwing session in Nashville. The 2019 standout underwent surgery on Thursday with foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson based out of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Samuel, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, will miss anywhere between 12 and 16 weeks. This timeframe extends into anywhere from Weeks 1-5 of the 2020 season, assuming the season starts on time.
Looking ahead to his sophomore season, the expectations are very high for Samuel after a promising rookie season. He finished with 57 receptions on 87 targets with 802 yards and three TDs. As the season wore on, the 49ers were creative getting the ball in his hands. From Weeks 11 to 15, he had nine carries for 122 yards and two TDs. In the postseason, he had 10 catches for 127 yards plus six carries for 102 yards.
Due to the departure of free agent Emmanuel Sanders to New Orleans, Samuel stands alone at the top of San Francisco’s receiver depth chart. 2020 first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State is the next man up although it’ll be a battle for the starting jobs with Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis, and Richie James all in the mix.
For fantasy fans, I wouldn’t discount the 49ers offense. We know this team wants to run the ball and while Samuel was sure to carve out a major piece of this offense, we also know that George Kittle is the true No. 1 here. This is a decent blow to Samuel’s value but if anything, where he falls in drafts may realistically represent his true value.
Samuel’s ADP (64) is actually one spot ahead of A.J. Green and a few spots ahead of Jarvis Landry. His draft position will fall in the coming days and weeks, but how low will he go? Perhaps the 49ers will opt to trade for a veteran in the final year of his contract. 49ers reporter Grant Cohn even had a few receivers to trade for in mind in his latest report on Samuel's injury, "If Samuel's injury lingers, the 49ers could trade for a wide receiver on the final season of his contract, just as they did in 2019 when they traded for Emmanuel Sanders. This year, the 49ers could trade for the Chargers' Keenan Allen, the Lions' Marvin Jones or the Texans' Kenny Stills."
Expectations were awfully high for the No. 2 pass-catcher on a run-first team. This injury may rightfully lower those expectations back to Earth. However, for those who already were enjoying the Samuel lovefest, it looks like you’ll get to enjoy a nice discount on the former South Carolina alum when your draft day arrives. If you want to play it safe, you should push Samuel down your draft boards about five rounds, putting his ADP in the 120 range. Such a shift would allow you to add him as your fourth receiver and first man up off your bench.