How the 49ers Will Use Deebo Samuel When he Returns from a Hamstring Injury

How the 49ers Will Use Deebo Samuel When he Returns from a Hamstring Injury

Deebo Sampson is having a downseason.

After holding out, requesting a trade and missing OTAs, minicamp and the first week of training camp, the 49ers rewarded Samuel with a three-year, $71. 55million contract extension with $41million guaranteed at signing He then reported to training camp and looked overweight. Now, he has a injured hamstring. He might play a different, and less important, role in the offense when he is back.

In the last season, Samuel was the offense. He was the 49ers’ best receiver and their best running back, and they signed him this offseason expecting that he would continue to dominate at both positions. He has not been able to dominate at either position.

Since Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback during the first quarter of Week 2, Samuel has rushed from a grand total of 33 yards on 14 carries. This is not a typo. And as a receiver, he has caught just 59.3 percent of his targets (a career low), while he has dropped a whopping 13 percent of his targets (a career high). Meanwhile, the 49ers’ team passer rating when the pass goes to Samuel is just 70.5, and he’s leading the team in targets per game.

Scroll to Continue

The 49ers have been forcing the ball to Samuel to the detriment of the offense. They don’t have the ball anymore.

When Samuel returns, the 49ers will have Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell, which means Samuel won’t have to play running back anymore. This is good news for him. He can now focus on wide receiver. The passing game doesn’t have to pass through him anymore. It can be through George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, or McCaffrey. Which means the 49ers can reduce Samuel’s workload and make him more efficient. They should use him as they did in his rookie season. He was given five targets and one to two reverses per game. He was a deadly player in that role. They made it to the Super Bowl.

When was the last time Samuel ran an inverted race? What about a jet sweep?

It’s time for the 49ers to rediscover the way they originally used Samuel — as a complementary player. Not the main man.

Read More