Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports


Bleacher Report lists Deebo Samuel as the 49ers’ biggest X-factor for 2021

Jun 13, 2021 at 9:58 AM--


Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report picked one player from each NFL roster who could be each team's biggest X-factor in 2021 (h/t to Kirk Larrabee). These are players who aren't quarterbacks or prototypical stars. That would be too easy. However, these 32 players' performances during the upcoming season could mean the difference between reaching the Super Bowl or missing the playoffs entirely for their respective teams.

Who is Gagnon's pick for the San Francisco 49ers? The guidelines listed above throw out names like Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Nick Bosa. It does leave third-year wideout Deebo Samuel, though, and he is the pick for Kyle Shanahan's squad.

"So while there's a little more margin for error with Samuel (compared to Garoppolo, Kittle, or Bosa) because of the presence of second-year first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk at wide receiver, we'll go with Garoppolo's favorite non-Kittle target from 2019," wrote Gagnon.

Samuel turned heads as a rookie in 2019 but was plagued by injuries and limited last season. He only appeared in seven games in 2020 and recorded just 391 receiving yards. That was less than half his haul from the year before.

Samuel hauled in 57 passes for 802 yards with three scores as a rookie in 2019. His versatility forced some teams to dig deep into their draft evaluations in the hope of finding a similar player. One who could frustrate opposing defenses with his ability to catch like a receiver and run like a halfback.

Gagnon believes Samuel staying healthy and improving in 2021 can be a catalyst for other offensive teammates to excel. Players like Kittle and second-year wideout Brandon Aiyuk will strongly benefit from Samuel staying on the field during the upcoming season.

"The 49ers are stacked in a lot of spots, but a lot rests on Samuel's shoulders," Gagnon added. "It's hard to envision them rebounding from a brutal 2020 if he isn't a big factor next season."





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