Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan says 49ers WR Deebo Samuel is ‘one of the best players’ he’s been around but still has much to work on

Nov 29, 2020 at 7:21 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers had a number of players make very welcome returns from injury during their 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but none of them were more impactful than that of wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who had 11 catches for 133 yards in the victory.

Samuel returned to the 49ers' lineup for the first time since injuring his hamstring in a win over the New England Patriots on October 25. His performance was instrumental in the 49ers' win as he made multiple big plays that helped lead to points, including three catches for 35 yards on the game-winning drive. Eighty-three of Samuel's 133 yards came after the catch, which is the highest total of any NFL player so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Samuel was good enough on Sunday to receive some heavy praise from head coach Kyle Shanahan, although Shanahan made it a point to mix the praise with a dose of criticism, which is something he tends to do with his young players.

"I can't tell you how good Deebo was today," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "I always mess with him because I'm a very soft compliment type of guy. You've never arrived; you always get better. So Deebo's got a lot to work on. But he's one of the best football players I've been around. It doesn't matter how good it is or how good it looks, he's going to get it done."

Shanahan made sure to tell Samuel after the game how he felt about what happened Sunday while also reminding him that not everything he does is perfect.

"Today he was just like, 'I'm proud of you,' this, that and the third," Samuel said after the game. "And he was like, 'You know, we still have things to work on.' I'm like, 'Yeah, for sure.'"

It isn't clear exactly what Shanahan and Samuel are referring to when it comes to the areas in which they say he needs to get better. But Samuel continues to show plenty of improvement since the start of his career with the 49ers, which began after being selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

"I think it's just getting better and better as time goes on," Samuel said. "It's all a trust thing. It all starts from trust, like how I am with the ball and Kyle believing in the things that he drafted me for, and just going out there and doing that."

And on Sunday, it was obvious the 49ers were a noticeably better team with Samuel back in the lineup. His performance showed that both he and the 49ers offense are on an upward trajectory, which should continue as long as he stays healthy.

"It all started throughout the rehab process, putting me in positions in game-like situations as far as getting myself back in shape," Samuel said. "But it also felt great to be back out there with my teammates and going out there and getting the (win)."

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