49ers' Deebo Samuel has hairline fracture in shoulder, out for MNF

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Saturday, October 21, 2023

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After a week of waiting and wondering which of their three injured stars would be available for Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan offered a mixed bag of outcomes on Saturday afternoon.

The worst news first: Niners receiver Deebo Samuel has a hairline fracture in his shoulder and has been ruled out for "Monday Night Football." Shanahan said that Samuel will miss at least the next two weeks leading into San Francisco's Week 9 bye.

"Deebo's [status] changed," Shanahan said. "He took X-rays and MRIs earlier in the week, didn't have anything, pain was still there so we got a CT [scan] the other day and found a hairline fracture. He'll be out this game, next game and we'll see after the bye week."

Left tackle Trent Williams' prognosis on his sprained right ankle is only slightly better as he is listed as doubtful for Monday. Things do, however, appear to be trending up for running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey participated in practice on a limited basis Saturday, the first reps he has taken this week. He is listed as questionable.

Williams sprained his right ankle early in last week's loss to the Cleveland Browns, but after missing a couple of plays, he returned and finished the game. But Williams was worse for the wear, sporting a walking boot on his right foot after the game and acknowledging he was in a lot of pain.

Williams was spotted walking with a limp most of this week, though he had shed the walking boot. If Williams can't go, the Niners would likely turn to Jaylon Moore to take his place. A fifth-round pick in 2021, Moore has started five games in his career, with the last one coming on Oct. 16, 2022, against the Atlanta Falcons.

"The good thing is Jaylon gets a lot of work with us," Shanahan said. "Trent, with his age and stuff, he never really goes on Wednesdays, so Jaylon is always going with all the reps on Wednesdays. He got a ton of reps in preseason, all the games and everything, so he's ready for this moment. He's been with us for a while and if he's got to step up, which it's looking that way right now, he'll be ready. He's had a good week."

There's more optimism for McCaffrey after he made strides the past couple of days. McCaffrey was seen doing some work on the side in Friday's practice and followed by doing some seven-on-seven work on Saturday. Earlier this week, McCaffrey told Shanahan to game-plan as though he was going to play even if he didn't practice all week.

McCaffrey is aiming to extend his streak of consecutive games (including playoffs) with a touchdown to 16. That would be the second-longest streak in NFL history, trailing only Lenny Moore, who had 17 for the Baltimore Colts in 1963-64. McCaffrey hasn't missed a game since the 49ers acquired him from the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 20, 2022.

"It was good to have him out there today," Shanahan said. "The fact that he was able to go out there today and feel good will give him a chance [to play] and we've just got to make sure he can go into that game on Monday and feel real good."

Samuel injured his shoulder on the first offensive snap of the game against the Browns and stayed in for nine more snaps before departing because his arm felt numb. He last missed a game with injury in Week 17 of last season when he missed three straight games because of ankle and knee issues.

If McCaffrey can't play, the 49ers would turn to backups Jordan Mason and Elijah Mitchell to fill in with Tyrion Davis-Price also available. Without Samuel, Ray-Ray McCloud and Jauan Jennings will fill in with rookie Ronnie Bell also in the mix and Mason and Mitchell picking up some of the carries Samuel normally gets.

"We weren't sure of him throughout the week so we've had contingency plans as it goes," Shanahan said. "And he's been banged up the few weeks before that too so this will give him a chance to hopefully settle down and come back 100%."