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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

NFL receiving leader Deebo Samuel off to a blazing start with the 49ers

Sep 20, 2021 at 5:47 PM

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San Francisco's star wide receiver Deebo Samuel had himself another very impressive game in last week's close competition with the Philadelphia Eagles. Even more promising for the 49ers is the fact that the third year wideout had a good performance against Eagles secondary and Darius Slay in the low scoring, grit and grind game. The final score ended up being a 17-11 win, but the Niners had an otherwise stagnant offense for most of the game, being shut down by Philadephia's strong run defense.

The 49ers receiver did it all on the field as he even had a critical pass breakup to prevent a potentially costly mistake by quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. Shanahan had this to say about the potential game-altering play: "I thought he [Garappolo] did miss a little one on that out throw on the third down that was their first all-out blitz of the game. And he had to fade away from an unblocked guy. So, he didn't really get everything into that. Which almost left a pick-six, which Deebo [Samuel] did a hell of a job breaking that up."

Samuel put up 93 yards going for six catches on eight targets from Garappolo on Sunday. This quality receiving output comes just one game after his nine-catch, 189-yard dominant display against the Detroit Lions on opening day. This pair of performances places the South Carolina alum at the very top of the NFL in multiple stat categories, including leading the entire league in total receiving yards (282) and being tied for fourth in receptions (15).

Only two 49ers receivers have topped this receiving mark over their first two games of the season: Bernie Casey and Jerry Rice, solid company for Samuel at the very least. 49ers fans will no doubt be rooting for Deebo to keep up his start to the season and pace the entire league in receiving yards this season, being the first player since Jerry Rice during the Niners' 1995 campaign.

From what we've seen from San Francisco so far this season, it looks like its run game will be doing a lot of the grunt work on offense. A three-back rotation of Elijah Mitchell, JaMychal Hasty, and Trey Sermon was featured against the Eagles and they handled a total of 66 carries over the past two games, signifying that the 49ers will rely heavily on their running game in order to dominate time of possession while surgically wearing down opposing defenses.

However, with all three running backs active last game going down with various injuries, the trio could be forced to sit out this Sunday's primetime game against the Green Bay Packers. The only completely healthy running back on the Niners roster at the moment is Trenton Cannon, a more experienced running back recently coming in from the Baltimore Ravens, certainly not a satisfactory option against the Packers even if they do promote more backs from the practice squad.

Look for the 49ers receivers, particularly Deebo Samuel, to be featured even more in the Niners' next bout as coach Kyle Shanahan looks to make the offense more dynamic to keep up with the Packers on Sunday night. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk still projects to gradually increase his target count as the season progresses, and the 49ers want to get tight end George Kittle involved more, but with Deebo Samuel racking up 20 targets through the first two games, he will likely be the offense's star once again.
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