49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has no plans of resting his starters for the remainder of the season. Why would you? Jalen Hurts may not play another down this season for the Eagles. And with the way the Vikings have looked during the past month, the 49ers are in contention for the top seed in the NFC.
At what cost, though? San Francisco’s health is paramount to their success come playoff time. If Brock Purdy leads this team to a Super Bowl, he’ll need the services of Deebo Samuel.
Some have suggested Samuel sits until the playoffs since the Niners have the NFC West locked up, and it would take Philadelphia losing the remainder of its games, including a Minnesota loss, for the 49ers to lock up the #1 seed.
Shanahan had this to say about Deebo’s availability for Saturday’s game against the Commanders:
“Yeah, week-to-week. I think this week maybe there’d be a chance if we were that desperate, so I’m not even looking into it this week and we’ll see how he is next Monday and make that same decision.”
We knew Samuel wasn’t playing Saturday, but Shanahan’s quote should provide comfort. As for sitting Deebo until the playoffs, historically, it takes skill players a game to ramp themselves back up to full production. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported that Samuel was seen walking around without a limp in the locker room, which is an improvement from last week.
Stanford and Harvard Orthopedic Sports Surgeon Deepak Chona had this to say about Samuel’s injury:
MCLs average 2-4 weeks. Moderate high ankles 2-5. The video of his injury looked pretty severe. But spreading the hit over two joints probably helped either from becoming a season-ending one.
Niners' comments suggest a return in Week 18. Data suggests a more likely return in the first round of the playoffs.
So, according to Chona, Samuel benefitted from the gruesome-looking hit. That isn’t something you would have expected to read once it happened.
The team has a couple more weeks to gauge how Samuel looks in practice and whether or not they feel it’s necessary to play him in the regular season. It would benefit Deebo to shake any rust off in Week 18. That way, he returns to his usual superstar self come playoff time.