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Exclusive: 49ers’ Deebo Samuel talks fatherhood, relationship with Jimmy Garoppolo, Christian McCaffrey and Jeff Wilson Jr. trades

Nov 9, 2022 at 7:56 AM--

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is allowing fans a peek into his personal life via the new "O Films" for Overtime series, sponsored by GMC. The multi-episode series chronicles Samuel's life both on and off the field. Nothing is spared, with Samuel's highly-publicized contract negotiations and previous trade request discussions at the forefront of the series.

Samuel recently spoke exclusively with 49ers Webzone while discussing "O Films" for Overtime. Samuel discussed his initial reaction to the Christian McCaffrey trade, his relationship with starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, why saying goodbye to Jeff Wilson Jr. wasn't difficult, and which 49ers teammate he'd trust to have his back in war. We also discussed preparations for Sunday's contest against the Los Angeles Chargers. We thoroughly enjoyed Samuel's time.

JM: You've allowed your fans a personal look into your journey via the new "O Films" for Overtime series, which chronicles your life up close and personal, both on and off the field. What made you want to take on such an intimate project?

DS: I wanted to show people how I live my life outside of football. I'm more than a professional athlete. At the end of the day, I am a pro football athlete, but I'm also so much more than that. I'm a father. I wanted to show my fans what a day in the life of Deebo Samuel is like, and that idea extended well beyond football.

JM: The series is available on "Overtime SZN" and chronicles your life as a parent to your son, as you mentioned. It highlights contract negotiations with the San Francisco 49ers and discusses the initial trade request. There are so many interesting layers. It's really a fascinating watch. What was the most difficult part of the series for you?

DS: Letting people in was definitely difficult at times. At times, there was a lot of private stuff going on in my life, as you mentioned. That was big for me. I'm a guy that would prefer to keep things personal. In relation to contract negotiations, that was the first time in my life going through that. The pre-draft process isn't like that. Your rookie contract isn't like that. It's just different.

There came a point in time where I didn't want to be bothered by people. At the end of the day, I still decided to do the "Overtime" series because I wanted people to see what life is like for Deebo Samuel outside of football.

JM: I think that's a very raw and honest answer. How has fatherhood changed the way you approach the game?

DS: I constantly think back to last year in December when my son was born. I feel like my game kind of changed a little bit. When I first got a chance to hold him and see him, it was like a switch flipped for me. Everything changed forever. I think I changed as a football player as well. You started seeing a different Deebo Samuel from December onward.

Like I stated a little while ago, I want my son to have a completely different upbringing than I had. I'm blessed to be in a position where I can provide for him and my family. He'll never necessarily have to ask for anything on planet Earth. You know what I mean? It's different from the way I grew up.

He's the reason I go out there every day and put my life and body on the line. At the end of the day, he will have the life I didn't have when I was growing up.

JM: We love hearing that. There's a big game coming up this weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers. What are some of the challenges of preparing for an opponent that's not particularly familiar or common to you?

DS: I don't think we typically spend a lot of time focusing on the opponent, to be honest with you. Coach Kyle Shanahan is big on focusing on what we have inside our building. He focuses on putting us in the right position to win football games. That's how we approach things at the end of the day. We're more focused on ourselves even though we have an uncommon opponent coming in, as you said.

Don't get me wrong. Of course we have to look at the tape and look at the things they do really well as a football team. But at the end of the day, it's about us. We're going to make it about us.

JM: That's a good way to counter an unfamiliar opponent. You talked about seeing a different Deebo Samuel when your son was born. Did that extend to altering your offseason training regimen, or even in-season training this year, after being so heavily involved in the run game last season?

DS: No, I really didn't change anything. Not at all, to be honest with you. I, of course, felt like I could keep training the same way. We didn't make any changes to my offseason training whatsoever.

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JM: The Christian McCaffrey trade sent shockwaves around the league. What was your initial reaction like?

DS: I was like, man, we're getting another guy that's really good with the football in his hands (laughs). Before we traded for him, we had myself, [George] Kittle, BA [Brandon Aiyuk], Jauan [Jennings], and Ray-Ray [McCloud III]. I can go down the line and name everybody (laughs). We're all capable of doing great things with the ball in our hands. We had Jeff Wilson. We're getting Elijah Mitchell back at some point. We added even more fire to this offense.

JM: What did the addition of McCaffrey do for you specifically within the structure of your offense?

DS: I mean, we were already a very explosive offense, like I just said. His addition is going to make us even more explosive. You've already seen the early signs of that.

JM: At the same time, you also had to say goodbye to a great teammate in Jeff Wilson Jr., who was sent to the Miami Dolphins in a separate deal. Was that a difficult goodbye?

DS: Me personally, after going through contract negotiations, my entire outlook changed. I look at things a lot differently now. I was more so happy for him than anything. Everybody, myself included, was super happy about getting Christian McCaffrey. I know that this league is all about business. It's just business at the end of the day.

That's why I was happier for Jeff Wilson. It wasn't difficult to say goodbye because I was genuinely happy for him. It was a great opportunity for him to go over there [to Miami] and get back around some coaches [Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel] that he's already been around. He didn't have to learn the scheme or playbook because he already knows it.

As you see, he already had a great first game in Miami. He scored a touchdown and had something like 76 total yards [72 total yards and a touchdown on 12 touches]. Jeff Wilson is gonna be Jeff Wilson no matter where he goes (laughs). I'm going to keep up with him forever. We're never going to lose the friendship and brotherhood we have with one another. He was my teammate for a good four years. He's a guy I love hanging around with.

JM: That's a terrific way to look at it. Wilson is going to thrive in Miami. I'm curious, do you have a favorite route to run? You're such a great route runner.

DS: I do, but I would never put that information out there. You never know who's reading or listening (laughs).

JM: What about man coverage versus zone coverage? Do you approach them with a different mindset? You're effective against both.

DS: I mean, you have to approach them differently. Press coverage and zone coverage are two completely different things. You know what I'm saying? We're talking about free access off the line of scrimmage versus press-man coverage. I have to approach them differently.

JM: What's your relationship like with Jimmy Garoppolo? He was in a difficult spot this offseason, and he's now been catapulted into the starting role. What do you appreciate about his leadership style?

DS: This is nothing new to me. Jimmy G was our quarterback when I was a rookie. I've been building that relationship with him ever since. We went to a Super Bowl together. His voice, in general, the way he commands our huddle, that's just Jimmy being Jimmy, and we appreciate that.

Not everybody might understand this answer, but my teammates know exactly what I mean by that.

JM: And you may go to another Super Bowl this season. I've really appreciated your time today, and I thoroughly enjoyed your "O Films" for Overtime series. In closing, I'm going to put you on the spot a little bit. You have so many excellent teammates. If you were going to war tomorrow and could only bring one teammate with you, who would you choose and why?

DS: Trent Williams, for sure (laughs). All you gotta do is turn the tape on. You'll see why. Just cut the tape on. That's a big dog right there. He's going to protect us out there.

* This conversation was edited for clarity
  • Written by:
    Justin Melo is a contributor for @TheDraftNetwork and covers the Tennessee Titans for @BroadwayTN and @TitansMCM. You can listen to him on The Music City Audible podcast (@MCABroadway).
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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