Three reasons why Deebo Samuel should be the NFL’S top paid receiver. (And three why he totally shouldn’t)
- By Josh Clark
Deebo Samuel posted dominant numbers in 2021, with more than 1,700 combined yards and 14 touchdowns (6 rec, 8 rushing).
But is he worth the mega-contract he’s vying for? Here’s our argument for, and against, the move.
1. YAC attack.
An All-Pro worthy percentage of Samuel’s total yardage was picked up after the catch in 2021. For each reception, he averaged a stunning 10 yards after the catch — first among wide receivers last year, per Pro Football reference. The next closest receiver, Cooper Kupp, wasn’t even close at 8.5 yards per catch.
Samuel also broke 13 tackles as a pass-catcher. Also first among all players.
He broke nine more on rushing attempts – the only non-runningback to achieve that feat.
2. Match-up nightmare:
Samuel lined up in the backfield 50 times, in the slot 171 times and out wide 455 times — and of course, succeeded in all three areas.
In fact, 40 percent of his touches resulted in a first down.
3. “Just getting started.”
After posting more 400 yards on the ground the rest of the year (Final 7 games and playoffs), he told media after the season that a 1,000 yard season was in reach. There’s reason for that optimism.
As a rusher, Samuel’s numbers didn’t kick into high gear until week 10 last year, because Elijah Mitchell was lost to injury.
1. McDaniel magic:
49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel found ways to exploit opponents defenses all year — even with the team’s runningback stable entirely depleted and barely average QB play barely. Now, McDaniel has taken his creative mind to Miami. Will the magic go, too?
2. “One year wonder” factor.
Now, that we mention it, Samuel wasn’t that special before McDaniel was given the reigns to call plays in San Francisco.
Samuel never had more than 3 receiving touchdowns his first two years in the league.
His previous high in receiving yards: 802.
And in 2020, his average yards per-carry was 3.3 (albeit in just 8 attempts)
Defensive coordinators in the NFC will be putting in long hours crafting ways to slow down Samuel’s ground game in 2022. Will the 49ers continue finding ways to get him into open space?
3. The grind.
We all watched Deebo Samuel grind his way through an inspiring – and painful – NFC Championship game, taking hit-after-hit for San Francisco, heading to the bench, and, somehow, returning to the field.
Even for a powerful specimen like Samuel, injuries take a toll. And, looking at his football career, it’s fair to wonder if they already are.
Samuel hasn’t played a full season as a pro.
He missed a combined 10 games in 2019 and 2020. Most of those games in his second year.
And as Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy detailed (https://ninernoise.com/2021/08/01/deebo-samuel-injury-history-updates/) last summer, Samuel has had seven different injuries leading back to his early days of college. He has missed a significant amount of time every other season dating back to his freshman year.
It’s likely San Francisco’s front office is weighing all of this — his historic season and his history – as they weigh what kind of offer to make the dual-threat weapon.
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