Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch shares thoughts on keeping Jalen Hurd, says 49ers have ‘a plan’ at punt returner

Sep 1, 2021 at 2:45 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers were seemingly left with limited options for a punt returner when they reduced their roster to 53 players yesterday. General manager John Lynch spoke with reporters today via a conference call and shared his thoughts on the plan at punt returner.

"We have a plan, and there's a number of guys who've been working on that during the preseason," Lynch said. "We feel quite good about our plan. I will say -- they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I think in this business, so is getting your players poached off the waiver wire."

Lynch was referring to the loss of wide receiver Nsimba Webster, who the Chicago Bears claimed. However, the team was able to bring back wide receiver Travis Benjamin via the practice squad.

"We've got a plan there, and I'll leave that to Kyle (Shanahan) to kind of announce who it is, and what it is, and the depth there, and all that when he chooses to," Lynch continued. "But we've thought about that a lot. That's important to us. We want to make that an asset to this team, and I feel very strongly about it."

Lynch was also asked about wide receiver Jalen Hurd, who was limited during most of training camp and appeared in just one preseason game—Sunday's finale against the Las Vegas Raiders. Hurd was one of the six receivers to make the initial 53-player roster. How much of the evaluation of Hurd was based on what the team has seen, and how much is based on what is projected for the third-year wideout? Hurd, after all, has yet to appear in a regular-season NFL game.

"I think there's some level of projection," Lynch responded. "... Jalen has some special skills, some unique skills, and has a variety of them. He's got a lot of versatility to his game. He knows it. We know it. You have to show that you can be dependable, that you can be out there.

"Do we feel 100 percent ironclad that he's proven that he's that in the short amount of time that he's been out there? No. But we feel like the talent that he brings -- and it's not just talent. He also brings a physicality and attitude that he plays with that I think is really contagious to our team.

"Again, you have backup plans for everything, but we want to enter this year with Jalen there, and we'll see how that goes."

In addition to those topics, Lynch confirmed that wide receiver Richie James reverted back to the team's injured reserve list. However, the general manager doesn't have a timetable for the player to return.

"He's having a surgical procedure on his knee, and it will be a certain amount of time," Lynch noted. "So, we'll see where that goes based on the reports after the surgery, but he is on IR."

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