Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Mike McDaniel explains what makes Deebo Samuel so unique

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 19, 2022 at 5:30 PM--

Deebo Samuel is a unique freak. That's obvious. Nobody's done what he's done as a receiver in the running game all season, and the third-year receiver doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon, as he had ten rushes for 72 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, who's best known as a run game specialist, which is the 49ers forte, has found ways to utilize Samuel in unconventional ways due to the wide skillset that the receiver has with his abilities and athletic frame.

McDaniel feels that there really is not a definitive term for a player like Samuel, given how uniquely the 49ers have schemed their offense.

"Well, Deebo has been unique to all of our careers because you're always trying to define what a football player is and it's still hard to define, but the game moves slow for him and he's fearless and he's fast and he is big and he is hard to tackle," McDaniel said.

Along with Deebo, credit goes to the coaching staff as well, since Kyle Shanahan's creative mind allows for new plays for Samuel, which has opened up the offensive playbook.

"The evolution of how we use him, that's a product of two things," McDaniel said. "Him being a really good football player and I think Kyle does an outstanding job of really pushing his staff to open their mind and see what's there maybe that we haven't done or really think through the whys of everything that we do.

"So that combination of a skillset with a particular player and the drive that Kyle's been pushing on me since the day I started working with him. Those type of things end up rendering the results that you guys are seeing from a whole staff perspective. We're all committed to utilizing our players the best way we can. And every person on the offensive staff contributes in that direction. It takes a village to do things that maybe haven't been necessarily done with specific players."

When designing plays for Samuel, McDaniel iterated that the question is more about how to get him in space, rather than trying to specifically structure plays, knowing how well Deebo operates in the open grass.

"No, so on that particular play, as coaches, we said score," McDaniel said. "No, it is really cool to watch him play, it changes kind of your job description a little bit to where you're trying to give a guy opportunities and not necessarily thinking exactly about defining stuff. You're more abstract about, 'Hey, how do we get the ball with space?' So that is a unique thing that we've kind of grown into. But Deebo would make any coach look great.

"I've been doing this for a long time and I've never, ever, ever been around a football player that called his own shot. I get in basketball, but when you're playing with 22 people are on the field, 11 of them are trying to tackle you with every ounce of being that they have. And you just say, 'Hey yeah, give me the ball, I'm going to put the ball in the box,' and for him to do it, that was a special moment that only a special player could accomplish."

In the last game against Green Bay, Samuel was used as a rusher, but the offense has evolved since then, especially when Elijah Mitchell's been injured, and credit goes to McDaniel & Co. for putting that strategy into the gameplan.

"Yeah, we don't seem that smart now, do we? Collectively, that's the way we look at it though," McDaniel responded. "That's the way that it's been ingrained within the entire organization to be extremely accountable and you look back at that and you're like, 'Wow, how did that happen? How could we go the course of a game and just not get him the ball, there's so many ways to do it,' but it's a natural progression. But really out of necessity, we found different ways to get him the ball. And to his credit he's really owning a lot of positions right now."

"For every time that you guys sit there and say 'Wow, they move him around a lot.' No, Deebo is moving around a lot. That means he has to be accountable for every single assignment. Every single thing you guys see him do. There's no success that comes out of it if he's not aligned properly, the timing of whatever play it is, isn't on point. That's something that you don't know if someone's up for the challenge until you progressively get there. And it's something that I know our whole team is really proud of the way he's matured and he's come to his own in 2021-22."

Deebo Samuel will, most certainly, look to be a key contributor on Saturday against the Green Bay Packers, and will likely be used as a premier rushing option, especially with the freezing Green Bay weather.


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