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49ers place WR Tavon Austin on injured reserve

The 49ers have been in need at wide receiver. That's what brought them to signing Tavon Austin last month. They might be back to the free-agent board after his injury.

San Francisco announced Thursday it placed the veteran on injured reserve with a knee injury. Austin was vying for a spot on the team's 53-man roster, which has been decimated at the receiver position heading into the season.

The 49ers, which kick off next Sunday versus the Cardinals, have been practicing without Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Brandon Aiyuk and Richie James, while recent acquisition J.J. Nelson is on injured reserve. Coach Kyle Shanahan expressed optimism Wednesday about Samuel and Aiyuk playing in the season opener. Hurd, who sat out the 2019 campaign, will be sidelined for this one as well.

That left Austin, a former first-round pick who spent the past two years with the Cowboys, in prime position to capitalize. But another long-term injury leaves the Niners' wideout group in flux.

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