The 49ers lost veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the New Orleans Saints in free agency but didn't rush to add an experienced replacement, as they were confident that Deebo Samuel was capable of building off an excellent rookie season.
But losing Samuel, a No. 1 receiver in the making, to a serious foot injury in mid-June is a significant setback for a team with realistic championship aspirations. The 49ers said they will have a better idea about his timetable for return when the team reports to training camp, though NFL Network estimates he could be back in 12-16 weeks.
Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd and first-round draft pick Brandon Aiyuk become primary receiving options if Samuel misses time in the regular season. Travis Benjamin could be a factor as well and will bring experience to the crew. Dante Pettis is still trying to find his way after the team selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft.
The 49ers also could look outside the organization for receiving help, though there isn't much available that could be considered a concrete upgrade over healthy players on the roster. Regardless, let's take a look at a few free-agent options the 49ers could consider if Samuel is unavailable for the beginning of the season or a significant portion of the year.
49ers could eye these free-agent receivers after Deebo Samuel's injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area