Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Deebo Samuel explains why offseason will ‘be huge’ for Trey Lance, shares missed opportunity

Feb 11, 2022 at 12:47 PM--

Deebo Samuel's third NFL season was a breakout year. The wide receiver became a superstar, accumulating 1,770 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns during the regular season.

Samuel had hoped 2020 would be his breakout season. However, injuries limited him to just 391 receiving yards and a touchdown through seven games.

The self-proclaimed "wide back" sat down with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area at Radio Row in Los Angeles, ahead of Super Bowl LVI, and was asked about his expectations for one of his young teammates—quarterback Trey Lance.

The 49ers made Lance the No. 3 overall pick last year, and most expect him to be the team's starting quarterback in 2022, replacing Jimmy Garoppolo. What does Samuel expect from a Niners offense helmed by the athletic young passer?

"It's kind of hard to say because when Jimmy was [injured], we were still calling the same things we would call if Jimmy was playing," Samuel said. "But as far as getting to the Trey situation, I think this offseason is going to be huge for him, just like it was my second year in the league. It was really big for me, and sadly, I got hurt, but with time comes greatness.

"So I feel like the more time that [he's] able to put in and get the mechanics, he'll know what it takes to be a pro. I feel like he'll do a good job in this league."

Most of Samuel's practice time involved catching passes from Garoppolo. Lance led the practice squad, with the rookie emulating each week's opposing quarterback for the 49ers defense.

While Samuel didn't observe Lance's progress himself, he heard about it from his head coach, Kyle Shanahan.

"I feel like there wasn't a week that he didn't get better," Samuel said. "Every week, he was getting better and better. And then Kyle mentioned that during the year. ... I didn't too much watch the practice squad reps. That was Kyle doing [that]. He was just coming back, giving me feedback. He's like, 'Trey getting better this week. Trey getting better.' I'm like, 'OK, cool.'"

As for Samuel's play in 2022, he's ready to do whatever Shanahan asks of him. If that means continuing the role of a hybrid receiver and running back, so be it. In fact, Samuel believes that if the 49ers hadn't waited until Week 10 to unleash his dual-threat skills, he might have had become the fourth player in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing in a single season.

Samuel earned 365 rushing yards this season. He had 137 more in postseason play.

"Me, personally, I think if we would have started out Week 1, it was something that could have happened," Samuel admitted.

He added that he doesn't set season goals. Samuel feels that doing so could make you complacent once you achieve them. However, is a 1,000-1,000 season something the young receiver will discuss with his head coach?

"Not at all," Samuel said. "I'm all for the team. Whatever Kyle asks me to do, I'm going to do it."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Samuel below.

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