The 49ers lost their top receiver, their No. 2 running back and their biggest playmaker all at once Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium.
Deebo Samuel, who represents all three roles for the Niners, went down with a groin injury late in the third quarter on a run play. He did not return and will be evaluated after getting an MRI Monday, but said after the game that he was not too concerned about his prognosis.
He took a handoff from Jimmy Garoppolo and sprinted toward the left side of the formation. When he tried to stop and change directions to avoid Minnesota linebacker Nick Vigil, Samuel went to the ground for a loss of six yards. He stayed down for a while before 49ers trainers checked out his injury.
“My groin got kind of tight once I went to make a move,” Samuel said of the play, “so I was just like ‘Let’s not make nothing any worse,’ and that’s why I just went down.”
Samuel walked off under his own power but was visibly upset as he trudged gingerly to the sideline. He was designated as questionable to return but after the 49ers finished the drive with a field goal to go up 34-26, Samuel was seen standing on the sideline without his helmet — usually a sign that a player will not return to play.
When the 49ers took the field for their next drive, Trent Sherfield took the field instead of Samuel.
Later, Samuel’s mood turned around as he was seen happily cheering on his teammates from the sideline. He even helped Elijah Mitchell get a drink of water, squeezing the bottle for the rookie just like many training staffers do.
“I’d want him to do the same thing if I running the ball like seven times in a row and can’t breathe,” he said after the game.
Samuel, who rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns on six carries Sunday, suffered his injury just one play after Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was carted off the field with a shoulder injury. He fumbled on the play while being tackled by 49ers defensive lineman Kevin Givens.