The San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of a late-season run to make the postseason. A stout defense led by Nick Bosa and an offense that’s mauling teams into submission led by the versatile Deebo Samuel have the Niners peaking at the right time.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan is utilizing Samuel in a multitude of ways, and it’s paying huge dividends for the Niners, who at 8-6 control their playoff destiny.
The former South Carolina product is also closing in on a bit of history. Samuel is looking to become the first wide receiver to lead his team in rushing touchdowns since the merger in 1970.
Deebo Samuel is now getting closer to a historic football feat: he is vying to become the only WR since the NFL merger to lead his team in rushing touchdowns:https://t.co/ub48VhFJGr
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 19, 2021
Shanahan has always been a run-first coach, and with Jimmy Garoppolo playing the role of game manager this style is perfect for how the son of legendary head coach Mike Shanahan wants to play offense. Samuel is his trump card, the versatile star that teams have no answer for.
Samuel Was Put In Backfield After Injuries To Other Backs
After losing leading rusher from Raheem Mostert to a season-ending injury in Week 1, Shanahan turned to Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell has been solid in the zone run scheme, but he doesn’t provide the explosive game-changing runs that Samuel does. Mitchell has rushed for 759 yards and five touchdowns despite being limited to nine games.
Samuel has rushed for 269 yards on just 39 touches and a team-leading seven rushing touchdowns. His 6.8 yards per carry average is tops in the NFL for players with less than 50 carries. Samuel loves contact and finishes runs violently.
Deebo Samuel runs so hard he's knocking mouthpiece up in the air 😡😡pic.twitter.com/mSegKL3dXs
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 19, 2021
Samuel Is A Stud Wide Receiver
Samuel’s development has been a welcome sight for the Niners. In his first two seasons, Samuel showed flashes of this elite skill set, but his third season has been his best since being drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft. His 61 receptions for 1,088 yards and five touchdowns are all career highs. Without question, Samuel is the most dynamic offensive weapon the Niners have, and his 93 targets prove just how much Shanahan looks to get the ball in his hands.
Samuel is a Swiss army knife for the Niners and a matchup nightmare. This season he’s already joined dual-threat Roger Craig and Pro Football Hall of Fame Marshall Faulk as the only players in league history to have 1,000 yards receiving, five receiving touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in the same season.
Deebo Samuel is the 3rd player in NFL history with 1,000 Rec yds, 5 Rec TD, and 5 Rush TD in the same season.
He joins Marshall Faulk (1999) and Roger Craig (1985). pic.twitter.com/TbCARIq5Ns
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 28, 2021
The first player to have 1,000 yards rushing + 1,000 yards receiving in the same season? Roger Craig.
Happy birthday to the 3x Super Bowl champion! pic.twitter.com/6mDDynMV1f
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) July 10, 2021
His versatility also conjures memories of the great Marshall Faulk.
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— #LIVEFREEUSA (@LiveFreeUS) August 10, 2020
Kyle Shanahan Is A Master Playcaller: Utilizes All His Weaponry
The Niners offense isn’t devoid of talent with Samuel, Mitchell, two-time All-Pro tight end George Kittle, and the ever-developing speedster at wide receiver in Brandon Aiyuk.
With such a wealth of playmakers it becomes difficult to keep everyone fed, but these guys enjoy blocking for one another and seeing one another succeed for the team. Shanahan’s strength as a playcaller is his usage of multiple formations and getting the football into his playmakers’ hands early and often.
Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel offered this insightful analysis on the emergence of Samuel and how they’re using his unique bag of tricks.
“With Deebo it’s game by game, how can we get him the ball? Some games you’ll see him in the backfield more, some games you won’t. It all depends on the defense and how we’re able to get him the ball and what advantages it presents for the rest of the offense.”
The Deebo Samuel impact is immediately felt. Great block downfield by Tom Compton pic.twitter.com/gJyvhbkFpY
— Chase Senior (@Chase_Senior) December 12, 2021
Identifying Samuel as the game-breaking workhorse has elevated the 49ers to serious contention in the NFC. His usage and production will prove vital as the team looks to secure a postseason berth and make a run come January.
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