San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud has suffered an injury that will likely keep him out of the team’s Week 1 matchup against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Sept. 10.
McCloud suffered a broken wrist during practice on Tuesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan said. He will need surgery, which is scheduled for later this week, and is expected to miss eight weeks. That puts McCloud’s return tentatively around Week 5 of the 2023 season.
In addition to his receiving duties, McCloud was the starting kick and punt returner for the 49ers in 2022. He averaged 10.8 yards per punt return and 23 yards per kickoff return for the 49ers last season. McCould also caught 14 passes for 243 yards and ran four times for 78 yards, scoring two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Danny Gray could replace McCloud on kickoff returns, while Ronnie Bell and D’Shawn Jamison will compete for punt return duties. Gray and Bell are listed as McCloud’s backups on the 49ers team-released unofficial depth chart for the first week of the preseason.
McCould left the Steelers via free agency last March, landing with the 49ers on a two-year, $10.4 million deal. McCloud spent two seasons as the Steelers’ primary punt and kick returner, and also became an integral part of the offense.
In 2021, McCloud led the NFL in punt returns (38) and punt return yards. He averaged 9.7 yards per punt return and 22.2 yards per kickoff return, finishing in the top 15 in both categories. Offensively, he set a career high in nearly every category, catching 39 of 66 targets for 277 yards. He also rushed twice for 15 yards.
Originally a sixth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2018, McCloud spent one season in Buffalo and another with the Carolina Panthers. He was re-signed by Buffalo but waived before the 2020 season and caught on with Pittsburgh.