Could San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver Jalen Hurd be a true offensive X-factor in 2020?
The San Francisco 49ers made sure to address the wide receiver position in a big way last offseason by doubling up in the 2019 NFL Draft. But while Deebo Samuel became somewhat of a breakout star, Jalen Hurd sat on the sidelines.
The 49ers selected Samuel with their second-round pick and it didn’t take long for him to immediately establish himself as one of the most dangerous weapons on the team’s offense.
Samuel proved to be a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan’s system and he finished the year with 57 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Hurd was forced to deal with a much different rookie season.
The 2019 third-rounder came to the 49ers with plenty of hype as a former running back turned receiver. A physically-imposing receiver, Hurd promised to add an element to the 49ers’ offense that was severely missing outside of tight end George Kittle.
But before he could ever really get started, Hurd had his first NFL season completely wiped out.
After being inactive for the first three games of the season, the 49ers finally decided to place Hurd on the injured reserve following a nagging back injury that turned out to be a stress fracture.
More from Golden Gate Sports
- Raiders: Rookie stock report following Week 3 performance
- 49ers sign new long snapper amidst a flurry of roster moves
- Oakland Athletics win Game 2 of Wild Card round with late-inning drama
- 49ers: George Kittle and Deebo Samuel cleared to return to practice
- 49ers expected to place DE Dee Ford on injured reserve
This offseason has been a challenging one for all players, but it’s been especially challenging for Hurd who’s been forced to rehab a difficult injury while dealing with the restrictions imposed by the ongoing worldwide pandemic.
But as of late April, Hurd has reportedly been cleared for all football activities and the 49ers will hope that he could build off of the promise he showed in the preseason prior to his back injury.
Jalen Hurd offers a different skill set than any player in the 49ers offense.
At 6-foot-4, 227 pounds, Hurd offers a different skill set not shared by really any other player on the roster. He’s a physical receiver whose experience as a running back makes him an impressive catch-and-run threat while his size gives him the versatility to line up at tight end if need be.
That versatility should allow the 49ers to feel comfortable carrying only three tight ends this season. And his skill set should be quite coveted by an offense that features many similarly-skilled players.
If healthy, there may be no receiver on the 49ers roster with as high of a ceiling as Hurd. Imagine a defense having to defend both Hurd and Kittle at the same time. It’s hard enough to cover Kittle by himself, imagine an equally physical receiving threat.
Hurd can be a true X-factor in the 49ers’ offense if he remains healthy in 2020. There’s a reason the organization spent a top-70 pick on him just over a year ago.
Now it’s time for that potential to shine through.