49ers: Richie James’ injury could cost him a roster spot

49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver Richie James’ recent injury could cost him a roster spot.

Just one day after the San Francisco 49ers lost top wide receiver Deebo Samuel for two months with a broken foot, they’ve now lost another wide receiver in Richie James for around the same amount of time.

As first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, James suffered a broken wrist in a recent training session that could keep him out for up to two months.

That timeframe would place a possible return at around mid-to-late-August meaning that essentially all of his preseason — if there is a preseason — would be wiped out.

And for a player like James who was expected to be competing for a roster spot, this is a serious blow to his chances of making the team.

The 49ers are expected to have a ton of competition at the wide receiver position this summer with numerous spots up for grabs. Aside from Samuel, the 49ers drafted Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and the plan is for him to see significant snaps at receiver.

Which 49ers receivers will be competing with Richie James for a roster spot?

Aiyuk will be competing with veteran Kendrick Bourne for playing time along with a host of others vying for roster spots Those players include but are not limited to Travis Benjamin, Dante Pettis, Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, and Jauan Jennings.

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Others include back-of-the-roster players like Chris Finke, Chris Thompson, and Shawn Poindexter. James was one of the many vying for a spot on the 53-man roster.

A seventh-round pick back in the 2018 NFL Draft, James has found his most success on special teams as both a kick and punt returner. And if he were to make the final roster, that would have likely been his biggest selling point.

But now, players like Benjamin and Aiyuk who have experience returning kicks will be able to prove their worth in his absence. Not to mention the undrafted Finke who returned punts at Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, James’ untimely injury will mean that every other receiver on the roster — with the exception of Samuel — will have an opportunity to shine while he’s out.

James needed a big preseason to earn his spot. But now, he’ll simply be watching from the sidelines.

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And for a lovable fan-favorite like Richie James, it’s hard not to have some sympathy.