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Deebo Samuel was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers to be a creative piece in the offense. The 2019 second-round pick provided that ability during his rookie season. He saw 71 touches (57 catches, 14 rushes) for 961 total yards (802 receiving, 159 rushing) and six total touchdowns.
That success led coach Kyle Shanahan to build part of the offense around Samuel. Unfortunately, that wasn’t able to happen due to a foot injury that derailed the offseason for the South Carolina product.
Now that he’s back in the starting lineup, the 49ers (3-3) are slowly starting to get him more involved in the offense — and it’s working.
During a 24-16 victory against the Los Angeles Rams (4-2) on Sunday Night Football, Samuel was the clear-cut No. 2 option in the passing attack behind tight end George Kittle. He caught six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, but we continued to see a creative approach to the offensive scheme.
Samuel is a guy who brings plenty of power, physicality and vision to the wide receiver position. Due to his relatively stout stature (6-foot, 215 pounds), he can essentially become a running back with scripted touches that allow him to best utilize his talents.
That’s exactly what happened on Sunday night, and Samuel took full advantage. Every catch he had came during some sort of shift or motion.
Deebo Samuel can't stop, won't stop 😤pic.twitter.com/WHdRqVrIgK
— PFF (@PFF) October 19, 2020
Deebo Samuel with his first TD of the season + the first TD of the night! ⚡️
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 19, 2020
Samuel can even be trusted to move the chains when the offense is trying to grind out tough yardage late. On a third-and-seven with less than two minutes to go, he was able to pick up a game-winning first down since the Rams didn’t have anymore timeouts.
Deebo Samuel calls game pic.twitter.com/jAs5emz8d8
— Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) October 19, 2020
Kittle is a dynamic threat at the tight end position, and first-round rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk is a deep threat option who is also incredible in after-the-catch opportunities. But it is Samuel’s return that is going to help make this offense more efficient and effective.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who threw for 268 yards and three scores while averaging 8.1 yards per attempt against the Rams, needs options. He’s never going to be guy who elevates the talent around himself, but he can be good enough to get the 49ers back into the playoffs.
San Francisco is going to need playmakers like Samuel in order to give Garoppolo the best chance to succeed.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.