SANTA CLARA -- Finally, some good news.
Deebo Samuel returned to 49ers practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a calf injury. Which means barring a setbak, Samuel is on track to play this Sunday in Chicago against the Bears.
Which is phenomenal news for the 49ers, because as bad as the Bears are, the 49ers won't win without Samuel. And this Sunday is a must-win game for the 49ers. They can't afford to lose their fifth-straight game and fall to 2-5.
Still, the 49ers should be careful Samuel. The more they use him, the more likely they'll win, but calf injuries are tricky because they can get much worse -- just look at George Kittle. He injured his calf Week 1, played through the injury the next two weeks, made it worse and landed on Injured Reserve. He might return next week, but he might not.
The 49ers can't let what happened to Kittle happen to Samuel. Because if Samuel goes to I.R., then the season really would be over.
Samuel currently is the 49ers offense. He's on pace to gain a whopping 1,836 receiving yards -- Jerry freaking Rice numbers. The only issues with Samuel are his durability, his ball security and his hand-eye coordination. Through six games, he has seven drops and two fumbles. A true No. 1 wide receiver shouldn't put the ball on the ground so often.
So Samuel might not be a true No. 1 wide receiver. But he's by far the best one the 49ers have. And for today at least, he's healthy.