Recently, 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd was cleared to participate in the team’s offseason program.
After suffering a stress fracture in his back last summer during training camp, the rookie missed all of the 2019 regular season.
Now, 49ers general manager John Lynch has told the media the team is “very optimistic” about Hurd’s comeback and ability going into the 2020 season.
“I don’t want to be overly optimistic because last year we saw some progress and then we had some setbacks,” said Lynch. “We love his skill set. We love his mindset. Now it’s time to put it all to work.”
Hurd, a third-round pick out of Baylor in 2019, is a 6-foot-4, 227-pounder who had one terrific season as a wide receiver after transferring from Tennessee, where he was a good running back.
As a Baylor senior in 2018 he caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns. In his last full season as a running back for the Volunteers, in 2015, Hurd rushed for 1,285 yards and 12 TDs, while also catching 22 passes for 190 yards and two scores.
In summer practices last year, Hurd was a physical receiver who battled for balls and sparked fights with some defensive backs with his aggressive play. In limited exhibition-game action before being shut down, he had three catches for 31 yards and two touchdowns.
Hurd could have been a big help to the 49ers passing game in 2019, but now will get a shot at making a big splash in his second season.
How good might Hurd prove to be? Longtime NFL reporter and analyst Peter King said this week (on the Peter King Podcast), that after watching Hurd in practice last summer, he believed Hurd was perhaps the steal of the 2019 NFL draft.
“I walked out of that camp, and we got in the car to go to the next place,” King said, while interviewing Lynch on his podcast. “And the two women I was traveling with said, ‘Well, what was your impression?’ I said, ‘We just saw the 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.’ This guy is going to come out of nowhere. He’s going to be fantastic.”
Lynch told King he too believes Hurd has a great future and that he can be a multi-dimensional player – if he’s healthy.
“He’s a big part of our plans,” Lynch said. “And remember, in the past, we thought he could play some receiver, we thought he could play some backup tight end. We thought, even at times, we could play him at running back. That vision for him hasn’t changed. Now he’s just got to go do it and be available. We almost look at him as another draft choice this year.”