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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

49ers WR Deebo Samuel leads all NFL players in this statistic

Dec 3, 2020 at 7:31 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel has only appeared in five games this season. During that time, he has recorded 27 receptions for 318 yards with a touchdown. What is really impressive is his 12.9 yards after the catch per reception. According to Pro Football Focus, that number ranks first in the NFL (h/t to Brian Witt of NBC Sports).

What is even more impressive is that Samuel is the only receiver on the list. All of the others within the top five are running backs. In fact, you have to go all the way to the No. 12 spot to find another wide receiver — A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans, who averages 7.9 yards after the catch.

Samuel is coming off a career game in Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, during which he had 11 catches for 133 receiving yards.

The 49ers made Samuel a second-round draft pick out of South Carolina last year. An offseason foot injury forced him to miss the first three games of this season, and a hamstring injury kept him out during Weeks 8 through 10.

Yards after the catch, or YAC, is a very important aspect of head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense and something the team emphasizes to its players.

"YAC is a mindset," tight end George Kittle explained in October. "It's something that coach Shanahan and our coaching staff has been preaching ever since I was a rookie, is catch the ball, drop step, get vertical. There's no point in dancing because everyone in the NFL is really fast, and everyone is coming to knock the ball out. So get vertical as quickly as you can, and you'll be surprised at the angles that some people take to tackle you.

"... Our receivers also run with a head of steam. You love to see that. Watching the film with Deebo all of last year, (Brandon) Aiyuk's doing that, [Kendrick Bourne's] got one of the best drop steps that I've seen. We have a team full of guys who can drop step and get vertical, and when you get a lot of YAC, it's a lot more yards and a lot more first downs, and it leads to wins."

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