One player alone can't replace Deebo Samuel.
He essentially is the entire 49ers offense, and he plays two positions at an elite level. He's a Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver, and he happens to be the best running back on the team if not the entire league.
But he won't play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. He will miss at least one game with a groin injury. Which means the 49ers must have a plan to replace his production.
Ironically, replacing his production at wide receiver shouldn't be difficult, because he has caught just two passes total the past two weeks, and the 49ers are a run-first team. Brandon Aiyuk has carried the 49ers' passing game recently, and he's healthy. Plus, the 49ers still have George Kittle, who's a threat.
But replacing Samuel's carries will be quite tricky.
Samuel has replaced what the 49ers lost when Raheem Mostert went down for the season -- a running back who can explode around the perimeter for big gains. Samuel actually is better than Mostert, is a Super Mostert, and that skillset makes the 49ers offense extremely dangerous because it takes advantage of Kittle's excellent blocking on the edges of the formation.
Starting running back Elijah Mitchell is terrific, but he's at his best running between the tackles. He doesn't burst around the edge like Samuel or Mostert. And neither does Jeff Wilson Jr. for that matter. He's another bruiser.
The 49ers need someone who can replace Samuel's production on sweeps. And the first candidate is JaMycal Hasty, who has missed the past few games. Earlier this season, the 49ers used him as a third-down back, meaning they threw him passes and called draws for him. Against the Seahawks, I'd like to see the 49ers hand Hasty the ball on first and second downs make him run around the outside.
And if he's inneffective, the 49ers have one weapon up their sleeve -- Trey Lance. He's one of the 49ers' most athletic ball carries, and he would devastating running outside the tackle behind Kittle. I'm just saying.
The 49ers have options. Let's see if they use them.