Deebo Samuel Brandon Aiyuk Getty

SANTA CLARA – Debo Samuels, who has been dealing with a left shoulder injury, gave some encouraging signs of progress toward his return to action on Wednesday this week.

The wide receiver did not participate in the 49ers’ practice Wednesday, but his chances of playing in the NFC Championship Game appear to be looking positive.

With a football strapped to his left hand, Samuels runs back and forth on the practice field as practice begins, where he is allowed to attend the 49ers’ practice.

Samuel suffered a shoulder injury Saturday night that limited him to just nine plays in the 49ers’ 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.

Wide receiver Brandon Ayuck expressed optimism that he thinks Samuels will be able to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

“I’ll do it myself,” Ayuck said. But[I]will continue to pray that he will get better during the week and that he will be with us to finish the job.

Earlier this season, Samuels missed three full games with a shoulder injury, and the 49ers went 0-3 in those games with losses to the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals.

In the playoffs, the 49ers beat the Packers despite Samuels being a spectator for most of the game.

Jauan Jennings and Chris Conley have played Samuel’s spot, while Ray-Ray McCloud has mostly taken Jennings’ spot as a slot receiver.

Ayuk said he believes the wide receivers group is now better equipped to continue and produce without Samuel.

Conley had a key 17-yard reception on the 49ers’ game-winning drive, while Jennings used five receptions for 61 yards in his extended playing time after catching just 19 passes for 265 yards in the regular season.

“I feel like this is his time. This is what he’s built for. This is what he’s built for. So if the opportunity arises, I’m ready to ride with him,” Ayuck said of Jennings.

‚ÄúThat’s why we do everything we do. I’m sure everyone will be up and ready.

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