Niners anticipating season-ending torn ACL diagnosis for Jalen Hurd

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers receiver Jalen Hurd's regular-season NFL debut looks as if it will have to wait at least another year.

Hurd had an MRI on his right knee Monday, the results of which weren't yet available when coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media after practice. But Shanahan said he'd "be surprised" if Hurd did not suffer a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. That means Hurd, who was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft but didn't play as a rookie because of a back injury, likely will go two full seasons without appearing in a regular-season game for the Niners.

"It's a pretty unfortunate thing for him," Shanahan said. "We know what he went through last year with his back. The guy's worked as hard as anyone on our team to get back. For him to get hurt before he actually got to go out there, just a freak thing on air, cutting. Really feel bad for the guy, but he will be back next year."

Hurd's string of bad luck continued Sunday, when he appeared to get his right foot caught as he was running a route on a side field. Hurd's knee buckled and he went to the ground, where he stayed for a few minutes before he was able to walk inside. Because it was a non-contact injury, the Niners were concerned it could be significant.

Hurd hadn't even been participating fully in San Francisco's Sunday practice. Because of the back injury that kept him out for all of 2019, the Niners were attempting to ease him back into the mix by having him get some individual work in, then moving to a side field to ramp back up before joining the practice fray.

Hurd's injury is just the latest in a series of blows to the Niners' relatively inexperienced receiving corps. Top wideout Deebo Samuel is already out with a Jones fracture in his foot, backup Richie James Jr. is dealing with a broken wrist and veteran Travis Benjamin opted out of the season.

The Niners signed wideouts Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson last week in order to provide depth and are bringing in veteran Jaron Brown for a workout this week. Brown has to go through the COVID-19 testing protocols before he can be cleared to join the team. As it stands, the team has just eight healthy wideouts, many of whom have little NFL game experience. All of which is why the Niners are looking to add not only bodies but receivers with experience.

"It's very tough when you're down to 80 [players] and you lose three receivers before you start practicing," Shanahan said. "Those guys count until you IR them, and there's only one guy [Hurd] we can fully IR now that it's his ACL to not bring back, so we'll be able to get one more number back from that. So the first thing we need are the numbers, but when you have those guys who have a good chance of making your team, guys like Deebo, guys like Richie, they're not gonna be there, you better bring in other guys who, yeah, we need numbers but also have the ability to play in this league and beat people out."