Deebo Samuel Is A Swiss Army Knife For The Surging Niners | Kyle Shanahan’s WR Is Running Up The Numbers

(Photo: Screenshot/MNF)

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.

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.

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

Roger Craig

His versatility also conjures memories of the great Marshall Faulk.

Marshall Faulk

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.”

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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