Kyle Shanahan: Jalen Hurd has potential, but not a lot of time left to earn a roster spot

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The 49ers took wide receiver Jalen Hurd in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft expecting him to develop into a playmaker. Instead, he still hasn’t played. Now it’s fair to ask whether he’ll ever play.

Hurd missed his first season with a back injury and his second season with a knee injury, and after he missed practice today for reasons that haven’t been specified, coach Kyle Shanahan said Hurd is fighting for a roster spot.

“I know he’s battling back from a serious injury,” Shanahan said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “We know the potential that he has, and the upside, and how much we think he can help us. But he’s got to show that. And there’s not a lot of time left. We want to be smart with him. I know some things were bothering him today. We were smart with him. But hopefully he can get in a groove where he has a chance to go out there and play some football and give himself a chance to make this team.”

No one denies Hurd’s ability. He was an elite high school running back, he started as a true freshman at Tennessee, and as a sophomore he was ahead of Alvin Kamara on Tennessee’s depth chart. After transferring to Baylor and switching to wide receiver, he was an outstanding receiving threat in his final college season.

But the most important ability is availability, and so far Hurd hasn’t had it in the NFL.