Jalen Hurd remains the 49ers’ secret weapon at training camp

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SANTA CLARA – Jalen Hurd remains the 49ers’ most mysterious man for a third consecutive training camp.

Someday this month he might be allowed to stick around for a full workout, beat his 6-foot-5 body in front of defenders and put on the show everyone has been looking forward to for two years.

This is the plan.

During this time, he is only allowed to participate in wide and offensive catcher drills in his No. 14 uniform, and he does so without a brace on his surgically repaired knee.

With those warm-ups over, Hurd heads to side court with strength coach Dustin Perry. A year ago, Hurd tore his anterior cruciate ligament while running while the team drills went on without him.

This camp, he runs to the side, but he also does other performance moves, like tying a bungee-type rope around his waist on Monday and practicing his first steps out of the line.

“He’s out there doing routes on the air and trying to get things in,” Shanahan said. “Just with the injuries he suffered and his back problems, we are trying to relieve him.

“We have a plan to try and get him into the team drills that are coming up very soon. I hope he stays on track.

The same goes with the 49ers’ secret weapon.

Shanahan, in an interview last week with Peter King of NBC Sports, called Hurd his choice as the “big X factor” on this team.

“Honestly, he’s probably mine on this team as well. He has to stay healthy so he can be a big factor here, ”Shanahan said in King’s Football morning in America column. “You are heartbroken and you are frustrated because you know how good he would be on offense. But he is equally frustrated. It would be a hell of a bonus to have it.

Hurd trained again with other wide receivers in offensive drills on Monday, having rested in the previous two practices during his knee recovery.

Scoring two touchdowns on his 2019 debut against the Dallas Cowboys – August 9 is the second anniversary – almost created a mythical character in 49ers lore. Fans got drunk on visions of Hurd, then wearing the No.17, racking up yards alongside Kittle, who set a 2018 record for receiving yards by a tight end.

Then came a back injury that wiped out Hurd’s rookie year – he attempted to return in October before entering the injured reserve and missing the Super Bowl run – and the ACL tear followed during the second camp training session of last year.

Hurd has not spoken to the media for almost two years, protected by his injury status. He looks upbeat and encouraged this time around, knowing full well that he doesn’t take his health for granted.

Injuries have also marked his college career, including a concussion, as he rose from Tennessee status to a Baylor wide receiver and then to a third-round pick in 2019.

The search for the 49ers is slow for wide receivers to emerge behind starters Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, although Mohamed Sanu has been a star in the camp’s first week.

Without Hurd and Jauan Jennings (COVID reserve list), the 49ers have to see more of Richie James, River Cracraft, Travis Benjamin, Kevin White and Austin Watkins Jr.

James and White caught Garoppolo’s touchdown Monday. Sanu represented three of Lance’s equal completions. Benjamin, who was rarely targeted in the camp, dropped a pass during a Lance deployment.

Shanahan said it was “too early” to assess the receivers, adding, “I don’t think anyone has really parted ways yet.”


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