San Francisco 49ers: Could Jalen Hurd be back for stretch run?

Jalen Hurd has missed all of his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers so far, but could he be back for the stretch run and the postseason?

The San Francisco 49ers have received excellent returns from their rookie class this season, but they have yet to get anything from third-round pick Jalen Hurd.

Nick Bosa has put together a Defensive Player of the Year resume and wide receiver Deebo Samuel and punter Mitch Wishnowsky have impressed. Sixth-round pick Justin Skule filled in for Joe Staley admirably at left tackle for six starts, all while Hurd has been forced to play the role of spectator.

A back injury has kept Hurd, a former running back at Tennessee converted to wide receiver at Baylor, on injured reserve. He can be activated to return to practice ahead of the Week 11 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. He will be eligible to return to play in Week 13 when the Niners face the Baltimore Ravens.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, per 49ers Webzone, expressed optimism Hurd could be ready for Week 13.

San Francisco has two dependable targets in star tight end George Kittle and recently acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Samuel’s versatility has proven very useful, and Kendrick Bourne continues to provide valuable contributions, but Hurd would offer the 49ers something different entirely with his size and ability to line up at multiple spots.

Hurd flashed in the preseason with a two-touchdown performance in the exhibition opener with the Dallas Cowboys, using his 6’4″ and 227-pound frame to haul in his second on a jump ball in the end zone.

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Without Hurd, San Francisco lacks a wide receiver who can dominate on 50-50 balls, but he has the potential to be much more than that. Hurd can line up in the slot as well as on the boundary and, in his single season at Baylor, showed promise in generating separation as a route-runner.

His previous experience as a running back opens up the potential for Hurd being utilized as a part of the league’s second-ranked rushing attack, particularly down near the goal line. The possibility of Hurd lining up as a de-facto tight end has also been mentioned.

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There is arguably no coach in the league better at using his resources to confound opposing defenses than Shanahan. The prospective return of Hurd will not generate significant headlines, but it would give Shanahan another weapon with which to befuddle opponents as the unbeaten Niners look to make a Super Bowl run.

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