Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


Deebo Samuel showing flashes of 49ers great Jerry Rice, says NFL.com

Oct 5, 2021 at 9:46 AM--


Deebo Samuel is the NFL's leading receiver through four weeks of play. He has 490 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns on 28 receptions, which puts him on pace for over 2,000 yards through 17 games.

Now, a lot has to happen between now and the end of the season for Samuel to come anywhere close to that milestone. While Calvin Johnson was 36 yards shy of that mark in 2012, no one has reached it. Samuel would have to maintain his current pace and stay healthy to come close, even with the benefit of a 17-game season.

While the receiving record would be a significant challenge, NFL Media researcher Dante Koplowitz-Fleming shares some similarities between Samuel's impressive start and one season from an NFL legend, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Samuel is the second 49ers player to surpass 450 receiving yards in the first four games of a season. The other is Rice, who did so in 1988 by producing 476 yards and four touchdowns from 20 receptions. Those numbers aren't too dissimilar from Samuel's.

Koplowitz-Fleming points out that Rice coincidentally had 163 receiving yards in a Week 4 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in 1988. Samuel had 156 receiving yards in Week 4 — against the Seahawks.

"Rice and the 49ers finished that season as Super Bowl champions," wrote Koplowitz-Fleming, "with the greatest wide receiver of all time being crowned Super Bowl XXIII MVP (Rice set a still-standing Super Bowl record with 215 receiving yards against the Bengals). Is this all a coincidence, or a sign of something more? We shall see."

Samuel had to fight his way into the end zone for his second of two scores against Seattle. On the first, he found himself wide open while running down the right sideline. Rookie quarterback Trey Lance saw his teammate and lofted the football his way for the easy touchdown.


"I really didn't realize how open I was until I saw the ball coming at me live," Samuel said after the game.

The 25-year-old Samuel is on pace to do something special. He is outpacing marquee players like Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, and Davante Adams. However, Samuel's 490 receiving yards are only 37 more than Hill, who is second in receiving yards, so there is a lot of work ahead for the 49ers third-year wideout if he hopes to maintain the top spot.

Maybe that will lead to some wins along the way for the 2-2 Niners, who currently sit in last place in the NFC West.

For more discussion on Samuel's impressive play, listen to Al Sacco and Zain Naqvi break down the wideout's hot start to the 2021 season below.






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