49ers dealing with injuries and ongoing COVID-19 concerns

49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are dealing with injuries and COVID-19 concerns as the team enters training camp.

The San Francisco 49ers will begin the new NFL season in uncharted territory, as they will now enter the year as the hunted and no longer the hunter.

The 49ers enjoyed an amazing 2019 season and the team looks to remain atop the NFC as the offseason programs have begun.

Obviously, these are unique times for everyone including athletes across all the major sporting events, but with each passing day, there seems to be cautious optimism regarding the return of a full season.

It’s been an extremely difficult start to the new decade for everyone and that may be one of the biggest understatements of the year.

The tumultuous events that have plagued the globe since the ball dropped on January 1st, have spilled over into the world of sports and hit our beloved 49ers pretty hard.

Back in June, the 49ers were dealt some bad news when they learned about the injury to second-year wideout, Deebo Samuel. While training alongside a host of teammates, Samuel sustained a foot fracture that will likely keep him out for at least the beginning of the regular season.

This is a huge blow for the young receiver since he was expected to really thrive as one of the main weapons in the 49ers offensive attack. Although modern medicine and therapy have expedited the recovery process, the uncertainty of this injury is still a major cause for concern.

Very few players are able to bounce back and return to form right away. It usually takes about 4-6 weeks of actual game action before players begin hitting their stride, assuming of course there are no additional setbacks.

If the 49ers want to return to the big stage at the Super Bowl, they are going to need all hands on deck, especially with a questionable receiving corps.

Samuel accounted for six total offensive touchdowns in 2019 (three rushing, three receiving), and he figures to see those numbers increase once he’s able to resume full-contact activities.

However, the entire organization including Samuel himself should be in absolutely no rush to get back onto the field.

Unless all of the proverbial wheels fall off the wagon before the start of the season rolls around, the 49ers should be able to steady the ship well enough to survive the first five games.

Samuel would exponentially benefit from the additional rest while enjoying his teams’ success. Will the staff be patient with his return? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

The defending NFC champs already have an uphill mountain to climb, since they’ll begin the season without their projected top wide receiver in Deebo Samuel. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the injury bug doesn’t stop there.

Shortly after learning about Samuel’s injury, the 49ers then lost receiver/kick returner Richie James to a broken wrist.  James really found a little bit of a groove with his role on the team.

As a return specialist, James delivered solid contributions on a consistent basis while protecting the ball for his squad. It would’ve been a great training camp battle to observe with a healthy Trent Taylor and the newly-acquired veteran Travis Benjamin.

All three of those guys are fairly equal when it comes to fielding kicks and punts, so their competition would be decided by the level of play from the slot position.

We haven’t seen a healthy Taylor since the 2017 season and Benjamin is a veteran with minimum success. With James down and out while rehabbing his injury, the slot position will be an interesting battle to keep an eye on.

The 49ers have also felt the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On top of the Niners’ current injury situation and the critical pieces that were either released, traded, or retired, they have also fell victim to the dreaded coronavirus.

While both wide receivers suffered their respective injuries during the training sessions in Tennessee, they were also dealt another crippling blow when news broke about one of the players testing positive for COVID-19.

Since then, additional precautionary steps and guidelines have been put in place in order for players and team staff to return to facilities and begin preparations for opening day.

After a minor standoff and a little uncertainty regarding this pandemic, the NFL and the NFLPA finally agreed to cancel preseason games for the 2020 season.

So now that we know we’ll be getting less football, I’m curious to see how this carries over into the season and beyond (i.e., how will position battles be won without evaluation games, will the NFL increase the number of players allowed on the active roster, etc.)

These are just a few questions/concerns I currently have on my mind and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. The 49ers are coming off an impressive 2019 season and it’ll be a shame if they couldn’t continue building off their previous success.

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There are a number of more pertinent issues to address in the world before talking about playing football, but if there’s one thing that can occupy us for a few hours while unifying all walks of life at the same time, then let ‘em play!