Why 49ers waived Jalen Hurd after three injury-riddled seasons

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Why 49ers waived Hurd after three injury-riddled seasons originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

One look at Jalen Hurd's Pro Football Reference page tells the story of his 49ers tenure.

Hurd, a third-round draft pick in 2019, never stepped foot on the field during the regular season in three years for the 49ers. Injuries cost him the 2019, 2020 and now 2021 NFL seasons.

Hurd has not accumulated any NFL stats, but he has three trips to the Injured Reserve to his name. A stress fracture in his back cost him the 2019 season, and then he tore his left ACL on the first day of training camp in 2020, and while he was able to play in preseason games prior to the 2021 regular season, that injury kept him off the field this year.

The latest trip to the IR, which happened back in September due to lingering tendinitis in his left knee, eventually cost Hurd his spot with the 49ers, as they waived him Thursday.

Two days later, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan offered insight into why the team decided to cut ties with Hurd rather than hang on to him to see if he could get on the field and realize his potential.

“We realized he wasn't going to come back this year," Shanahan told reporters in Santa Clara on Saturday. "We were giving him as much time as we could. We all felt very strongly that if he ever could come back how much he could have helped us. But for the third year in a row, just with his [unluckiness] with these injuries, how it was healing, we knew it wasn't going to be this year and just going into a fourth year in a row of it would just be too much of a risk for our organization. So, we had to move on.”

In Hurd's first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, he caught two touchdown passes, showing exactly why the 49ers drafted him out of the Baylor.

"I can do different things," Hurd said after the 49ers' exhibition win on Aug. 10, 2019 (H/T Associated Press). "We'll just see what they do with me. I'm just trying to seize the opportunity to make a play."

When Hurd got into the 49ers' preseason finale this year against the Las Vegas Raiders, he caught four passes for 25 yards. Shanahan viewed his exhibition debut as a "success" and the young wide receiver made the 53-man roster.

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Right up until Hurd's IR stint in September, 49ers general manager John Lynch expressed belief in the 25-year-old.

"He's such an intriguing player because he can do so many different things," Lynch told KNBR's "Murph and Mac" on Sept. 10. "And he's a physically-imposing type player, so he fits what we do really well. ACL [injuries] -- some go very smooth. And others, you have these little deals where you're going great, and then you run into a rough patch where the things get irritated. And unfortunately, it just happened for him at the wrong time, which was right after he played in that [preseason] Raiders game.

"And so we took a course of action where we're trying to quiet the thing down and allow him to ramp up again. But we do have a lot of belief. And I know people get frustrated, but I think we've seen having the long view, [like with cornerback] Jason Verrett, who had a litany of injuries, but we stuck with him, and it's beared real good fruit. We're seeing the dividends with Jason playing at a Pro Bowl—and some people might even say All-Pro-level at the end of last year."

Unfortunately for Hurd, that belief from the 49ers ran out this week, and it's unclear what the future holds for the talented but injured receiver.

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