The San Francisco 49ers have been decimated by injuries this season as severely as any team in recent memory. For their campaign to not slip away, they need as many weapons as possible to return. The good news for the team is that their head coach is at least somewhat hopeful that Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel might be back as soon as next week.
Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel Could Play Against Saints
According to Matt Maiocco, Kyle Shanahan said that there’s a chance that both Mostert and Samuel will play against the New Orleans Saints next week. The next few days will bring more information about how realistic the prospects are of that occurring, but the team needs to cling to any optimism right now.
49ers Need the Explosiveness Mostert provides
Despite having played in only three games so far this season, Raheem Mostert leads the team with 303 rushing yards, averaging an excellent 5.9 yards per rush in the process. Mostert is one of the fastest running backs in the NFL and always a threat to break a huge play anytime he touches the ball. His acceleration as gaps develop in front of him is outstanding. Without him, the 49ers don’t have that same type of dynamic option out of the backfield. There’s not the same level of explosiveness present as when Mostert is getting the bulk of the carries.
As a team defense through their first eight games, the Saints are averaging just 3.6 rushing yards per rush, which ranks third in the league. Mostert returning might be what the 49ers need to establish their run game against a defense that has been stout containing the run. The 49ers are a team predicated on asserting themselves through that running game and letting the rest of their offense flow through that success.
Samuel Serves as a Versatile Cog in the Offense
Samuel plays a valuable role in the whole offense, whether it’s breaking big plays when he gets space down the field or catching the defense off guard in the run game. Shanahan utilizes Samuel’s shiftiness through creative jet sweeps, and Samuel’s absence has deprived the 49ers of a valuable component of their arsenal. Brandon Aiyuk has similar skills as Samuel in terms of getting into the open field and creating extra yards. It will be interesting to see a passing game built around those two and their exceptional agility, especially with George Kittle being out for possibly the rest of the year. In the four games Samuel has played in this season, he’s racked up at least five catches and 65 yards in two of them, so he’s been productive when actually out on the field. It’s important to note that both of those games were ones in which Jimmy Garoppolo started, however, and it’s still to be determined if Samuel can develop that same type of chemistry with Nick Mullens or any other quarterback who gets snaps for the 49ers from here on out.
The Saints have a pass defense through eight games that has allowed the fourth-highest opponent quarterback rating in the league, and they are vulnerable to being exploited through the air. Their secondary ties for the league lead in passing plays of 40 yards or more allowed, and if the 49ers were closer to full strength, this is certainly something that they could take advantage of through their speed. Samuel returning could be a big boost for them, though, as both he and Aiyuk are more than capable of breaking some home-run plays against a defense that has fallen victim this season to that type of explosiveness.