Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers need to pay Deebo Samuel this offseason

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 10, 2022 at 12:30 PM--

Deebo. Freaking. Samuel.

The man behind the 49ers' offensive explosiveness put on an absolute show in a playoff-clinching game against Rams, compiling four catches for 95 yards, eight rushes for 45 yards and a touchdown, as well as a touchdown pass for 24 yards. Talk about a three-dimensional weapon. Truly one of a kind.

In reality, the third-year receiver out of South Carolina has been the 49ers' backbone all season, putting the team on his back with a variety of impressive catches and the ability to generate yardage in open space.

With his performance Sunday, Samuel ended the season with 77 catches for 1405 yards and six touchdowns, along with 59 rushes for 365 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, which was an NFL record for a wide receiver.

At times, Samuel has single-handedly kept the 49ers in football games with his ability to get yards after the catch, where he utilizes his pure strength and elite speed to get past defenders and make explosive plays, both as a receiver and as a running back.

Want an example? Check the Tennessee game, where Samuel took a simple ten-yard slant for 56 yards, setting up the 49ers game-tying touchdown, although they eventually lost.

Serving as a reliable weapon for Jimmy Garoppolo, Samuel's accumulated eight games of 90+ yards receiving, and that includes a stretch where the 49ers specifically utilized him as a running back due to the injury issues they faced at the position with Elijah Mitchell.

In the offseason, after finishing his third season, Samuel is eligible for a contract extension, and it won't come cheap, but it's well deserved. And I think San Francisco should 100% pay him.

The 49ers already have George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, a stout offensive line, and a serviceable running back in Elijah Mitchell. But, Samuel provides something very different than all four of those offensive elements, and it's arguably the most important aspect of them all: the combination of elite speed, explosion, size, and versatility as a receiver and a running back.

Looking at receiver contracts, DeAndre Hopkins currently leads all NFL receivers in average annual value(AAV) at $27 million/year after signing a 2-year, $54-million extension with the Arizona Cardinals.

I don't believe Samuel will be as costly as Hopkins; he hasn't proved himself over a long enough time, but he certainly will look to be in the range of—or perhaps eclipse—the $22 million AAV that Julio Jones currently holds, which is the 2nd highest contract for a receiver.

When talking contracts, there is one slight obstacle for the 49ers: there are some other damn good receivers in Samuel's class that are also eligible for extensions in D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and Terry McLaurin, as well as impending free agent Davante Adams, who will likely challenge Hopkins and potentially reset the receiver market.

The 49ers aren't new to the contract eclipsing mechanism: they beat out the Colts and Darius Leonard in the LB race last year when signing Fred Warner to a contract first, which turned out to be a 5-year, $95 million contract. Leonard signed a 5-year, $99.25 million deal days later.

With more competition this offseason for receivers, the 49ers will likely have to pounce fast, which may mean extending Samuel before their normal timeframe, right before training camp, which was when they signed both Fred Warner and George Kittle to their respective extensions.

Thinking about the details of Samuel's potential extension, I think the 49ers and Samuel will likely look towards a 5-year deal, with the potential for a 3-year opt out clause to give both the 49ers and Samuel some flexibility.

In addition, the total money value should be around a 5-year, $112.5-120 million deal, eclipsing Julio Jones's $22 million AAV, with around $63-70 million guaranteed, which would likely be record-setting in terms of money guaranteed, which is much deserved for such a special offensive talent.

Should Samuel prefer a four year deal, I'd predict a four-year, $92-100 million deal, but a five year deal seems likelier between the two parties.

In addition to those terms, I'd expect incentives for accolades like leading the NFL in receiving yards, winning OPOY, MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and more, increasing the maximum money value of the deal.

However, this deal is set under the pretense that San Francisco is the first team to make a deal with their star third-year receiver.

If Seattle, Tennessee, or Washington beats San Francisco to the chase, Samuel and his camp will likely look to top the deal, and rightfully so, as he's as talented, if not the most talented, of the group.

San Francisco would have to act fast, and it may work in their best interests, because Nick Bosa's extension is coming as well, and that one will be, once again, a hefty price to pay for a premier player. More on that in another article.

Moral of the story: extend the player that has single-handedly transformed how this offense and future NFL offenses will operate due to his valuable versatility and expertise as both a runner and receiver. And pay him quickly.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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