San Francisco 49ers star wide receiver Deebo Samuel‘s latest big performance elicited memories of his “awful” 2022 individual season narrative.
His 2022 season consisted of 56 catches for 632 yards and two touchdowns, which he blamed on conditioning before training camp. This year, Samuel is already past most of those numbers with 45 catches for 739 yards and touchdowns. That included his 149-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in a 28-16 victory.
“I told [Shanahan], ‘I’d never put stuff like that on tape again,’” Samuel said on NBC Sports Bay Area after the game.
“This offseason I took very serious,” Samuel added. “Me and Kyle had a heart-to-heart before I got going at the mandatory minicamp and I told him I’ll never put things like that on tape again. I was full head of steam training to come back in the best shape I’ve been.”
"I told [Shanahan], 'I'd never put stuff like that on tape again.'"
Deebo credits his elite play this season to his rigorous offseason workouts 😤 pic.twitter.com/XtuZ7vrXiQ
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) December 11, 2023
Samuel torched the last two opponents. He had seven catches for 21.3 yards per reception and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Samuel arguably did more against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13 with a four-reception, 116-yard, and two-touchdown performance — an average of 29 yards per catch.
“It’s been very good,” Shanahan told reporters on Sunday regarding Samuel. “We’re not done yet, so there’s a lot more football to play so we’ll see at the end of the year. But I thought Deebo came into this season very ready to go. I thought he was looking really good those first couple weeks. Didn’t have the stats to show it, but that’s just the way the ball went but he was really ready to go.”
Deebo Samuel Took Off After Slow Start
Samuel started slow with five catches for 55 yards in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He didn’t score his first touchdown until Week 3 against the New York Giants in a six-catch, 129-yard performance.
“Then he had a setback with his injuries which took him a while to get back from and when he did it still took some time to get back in football shape,” Shanahan said. “But starting a few weeks ago you could see it and I think he’s at the top of his game right now.”
Samuel gained steam in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he caught three passes for 63 yards — a 21-yard per reception average. He gave the Seahawks trouble in their first meeting, too, with seven catches for 79 yards in Week 12.
That’s all just catching the ball. Samuel has been a force when the 49ers utilize him on running plays with 161 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries this season.
Brock Purdy: ‘Same Old Deebo’
Niners quarterback Brock Purdy broke down Samuel’s effectiveness after Sunday’s win, and Purdy downplayed Samuel’s 2002 narrative at the same time.
“I feel like he’s just more intent with the little things,” Purdy said about Samuel. “And then, obviously his effort when he is not getting the ball, carrying out fakes to open up [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] or play-action pass, he’s doing it right.”
“Last year was my first year with him, so I didn’t really know a whole lot. I thought he balled last year. You get the ball in his hands and he still killed it. But, he came back this year in great shape, looking good and then has given everything to this team. So, very proud of him. And obviously, when you do get him the ball, he’s the same old Deebo, makes plays.”