SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP)Deebo Samuel thought his season was over when his left leg collapsed after being tackled in Week 14.
Instead, Samuel got good news that he avoided a major injury to his knee and ankle, and he is now poised to come back for the San Francisco 49ers for a playoff run.
”I thought I was done,” he said Wednesday about his reaction when he got injured against Tampa Bay. ”I never had been in a position like that in my 15 years playing and it was a kind of scary scene. Just knowing I came out of it was just crazy.”
Samuel said he believes a surgery he had in college on his ankle helped prevent a more serious injury.
He managed to return to practice last week and could play in the regular season finale Sunday against Arizona for the NFC West champion 49ers (12-4).
Samuel said he wanted to see how his body responds in practice this week before knowing if he will play against the Cardinals.
”Not necessarily trying to push,” he said. ”I’m not going to risk myself. If I’m not 100% ready to go, I’m not going to go out there.”
Getting Samuel back would provide a big boost for the streaking 49ers, who have won nine straight games and head into Week 18 with a chance at the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. San Francisco is assured of the No. 2 seed with a win against the Cardinals and can earn the top seed and a bye if Philadelphia also loses.
Samuel has 54 catches for 612 yards and two TDs, along with 228 yards rushing and three TD runs this season.
Samuel made a major impact in last year’s playoffs with 294 yards from scrimmage and two TDs to help the Niners reach the NFC title game.
He isn’t the only important offensive playmaker close to making a return for the Niners as they get ready for the playoffs.
Running back Elijah Mitchell returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since going on injured reserve after spraining his left knee on Nov. 27. Mitchell sprained his right knee in the opener and has only played in four games this season.
San Francisco opened his practice window and is expected to use the last of its eight return from IR designations to get Mitchell back either this week or for the playoffs.
Mitchell led the 49ers in rushing as a rookie with 963 yards in 2021. He has 40 carries for 224 yards this season.
NOTES: RB Christian McCaffrey (knee, ankle) missed practice but is still expected to play this week. … Other players who missed practice were G Aaron Banks (ankle, knee), LB Dre Greenlaw (back), DT Javon Kinlaw (knee), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (foot), DL Kevin Givens (knee) LT Trent Williams (rest) and DE Nick Bosa (rest). … Defensive tackle Arik Armstead (ankle) was limited.
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