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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kyle Madson

49ers rookie WR Ronnie Bell could see increased role vs. Cardinals

There haven’t been many opportunities that 49ers rookie wide receiver Ronnie Bell hasn’t taken advantage of as a pro. He dominated in the preseason as the team’s leading receiver and worked his way onto the roster thanks to his tenacity after the catch and ability to contribute on special teams. Now as injuries hit San Francisco’s receiving corps, Bell is once again seizing the uptick in opportunity.

In Week 3 with WR Brandon Aiyuk sidelined by a shoulder injury, the 49ers turned to their rookie seventh-round pick. He played a career-high 31 snaps and caught both of his targets for 24 yards and a touchdown (albeit one target wasn’t meant to find him, but a fortunate bounce off a deflection earned him a reception).

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Aiyuk is set to return in Week 4, but now WR Deebo Samuel is dealing with a knee injury that could keep him out of action when the 49ers host the Cardinals.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Friday in a press conference said his confidence in Bell has grown throughout Bell’s time with the 49ers.

“He started in pre-season, started in practice, carried over to the games,” Shanahan said. “He’s been great in these first three weeks. Played really well without the ball and when he’s got opportunities, he has done exactly what he’s expected to do and gets better in practice every day and been real excited with him so far.”

San Francisco could once again be looking to Bell to make plays for them on offense. Samuel is questionable and WR Jauan Jennings is doubtful with a shin injury.

That could open the door for Bell to take on an outsized role as the No. 2 receiver against the Cardinals. It may seem like a lot for a rookie seventh-round selection to take on, but given how Bell has responded to challenges so far in the NFL, it’s hard to fault Shanahan and the coaching staff if they have enough faith in him to increase his opportunities.

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