Josh Gordon possesses so much natural talent that NFL teams continue to take chances on him. Will the San Francisco 49ers be the next one? With Deebo Samuel undergoing foot surgery, Jimmy Garoppolo needs help at receiver. Gordon certainly has his issues, but he could be a dynamic fit in San Francisco with Kyle Shanahan at the helm and Garoppolo under center.
Deebo Samuel will miss significant time with a foot injury
Receivers have a tough task in transitioning from college to the NFL. Last year, though, a number of rookie wideouts stepped up to the challenge. Deebo Samuel certainly did. The second-round pick out of South Carolina became an immediate contributor for a 49ers passing attack that lacked a bonafide No. 1 receiver.
Tipping the scales at 5-foot-11, 214 pounds, Samuel may not boast a typical frame for a star receiver. However, he showcased rare run-after-the-catch ability playing in Shanahan’s scheme. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards. He also chipped in 159 rushing yards and totaled six touchdowns for the NFC champions.
Unfortunately, he’ll have a tough time building on his sensational rookie season. On Thursday, ESPN reported that Samuel underwent surgery after suffering a Jones fracture in his left foot during a workout. While a Week 1 return could be realistic, foot injuries tend to be finicky. Given San Francisco’s thin depth chart, it might be time for some reinforcements.
Josh Gordon applied for reinstatement after spending 2019 with Patriots and Seahawks
Like Deebo Samuel, Josh Gordon has the makings of a No. 1 receiver. Of course, he boasts a much more typical frame (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) to go along with blazing speed. That said, the 2013 Pro Bowler has rarely been able to showcase his elite talent due to substance abuse issues.
Gordon seemed to be on the right track when he signed with the New England Patriots in 2018. He caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns from Tom Brady before he stepped away from football to focus on his mental health.
Last season, the athletic phenom successfully earned his reinstatement in late August. However, Gordon caught just 20 passes in six games before the Patriots placed him on injured reserve. After getting waived, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Gordon lasted just over a month before the NFL suspended him for the fifth time for violating the substance-abuse policy.
With the 2020 season approaching, Josh Gordon filed for reinstatement on Wednesday. Assuming Roger Goodell gives his stamp of approval, the ultra-talented wideout could find a welcoming home in San Francisco.
Gordon and Garoppolo could be a dynamic duo
If the 49ers plan on Jimmy Garoppolo leading them back to the Super Bowl, they better give him some help. First-round pick Brandon Aiyuk should be a year-one contributor. But it’s asking a lot for a rookie to come in and play a ton of snaps, especially with an abbreviate offseason.
Even if Samuel returns early in the season, the 49ers would be smart to bring in another wideout. What happens if he experiences a setback in his recovery? Or what if he re-aggravates the injury early in the year?
By pairing Garoppolo with Josh Gordon, the 49ers could have a potentially dominant duo on their hands. San Francisco’s starting quarterback excels at getting the ball out quickly. Gordon just so happens to be a monster on slants, comebacks, and certainly in the red zone. In a scheme designed to put players in space, Gordon could be special with the ball in his hands.
In addition, San Francisco’s current wide receiver group lacks size. Samuel, Aiyuk, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, and Richie James all check-in at 6-feet or under. Jalen Hurd and Jajuan Jennings boast great size, but neither has recorded an NFL catch. Gordon provides excellent size, recent production, and high upside.
Ultimately, Josh Gordon still has to wait to hear if he can play football again. If he does get Goodell’s permission, he’d be smart to take his talents to San Francisco.