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49ers hope Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey tandem is ready for Lions

Jan 25, 2024 at 5:04 PM--

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Quarterback Jared Goff recently had a humorous exchange with a reporter who complimented the Detroit Lions for having several outstanding players on their roster but suggested they aren't viewed in the same way as the star power on the San Francisco 49ers roster.

The Lions are preparing to face the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium. The winner of Sunday's showdown in Santa Clara will represent the conference in Super Bowl 58.

One of the 49ers' biggest playmakers is wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who suffered a shoulder injury against the Green Bay Packers last weekend. However, things are trending toward the do-everything wideout suiting up for the NFC title game.

After missing practice on Wednesday, Samuel rejoined his teammates on Thursday, albeit as a limited participant. Asked about getting Samuel back at practice, tight end George Kittle stated, "Deebo is always great. We're just excited for him to be out there. He's just such a huge part of our offense and everything that we do. And just his energy itself is infectious, and he gets guys going, he gets them confident."

Kittle noted that Samuel and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk provide a unique dynamic to the 49ers' offense, adding, "So very excited to have Deebo out there and he looks great."

Samuel is part of another 49ers duo that can throw a wrench in opposing defensive game plans. Equally as versatile as the receiver, running back Christian McCaffrey has proven he can also do it all, evident by his NFL-leading 2,023 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns this season.

When asked what it means to have Samuel back on the practice field, McCaffrey responded, "It's awesome. Anytime he's out there, he brings an extra set of juice that is hard to mimic without him."

McCaffrey added, "Even if he's just in motion, getting people to put their eyes on him because you never know. When he has a ball in his hands, it's pretty scary."

The 49ers were missing that McCaffrey-Deebo pairing for most of the game against the Packers. They hope to have it back on the field on Sunday against the Lions.

When it comes to work ethic, McCaffrey commended all his teammates. Samuel, Aiyuk, Kittle, Jauan Jennings, and Kyle Juszczyk are 100 percent committed to doing their jobs the right way, ensuring that head coach Kyle Shanahan's game plan is executed to perfection.

Still, with McCaffrey able to line up on the outside and Samuel capable of lining up in the backfield, defenses must be ready for anything while facing the 49ers. Tackle Trent Williams was asked if he can notice the duo's impact on opposing defenses.

"Yeah, I can, just for the simple fact when you see them guys get the ball and you see what they do with it," Williams said, admitting that he isn't always privy to seeing the effect during games because he is so focused on stopping the defensive linemen trying to disrupt what is happening behind the line of scrimmage.

However, Williams appreciates having several playmakers on offense, making his job much easier.

"Anytime you got two (playmakers) out there, you're going to reap the benefits of having two," Williams commented. "Luckily for us, we got three or four, so we can keep them fresh. But those guys, they just present such challenges for the defense because you got to know where everybody's at. Normally, you got to know where one guy's at, maybe two. On this offense, you got to know where three or four guys are at, at all times, and it's hard."

McCaffrey acknowledges that the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Williams makes his job easier, too, telling reporters, "I've learned it's really fun to run behind Trent, and I have no idea how somebody that big moves like that. I've yet to figure that out."

There is no doubt in Williams' mind who is the best running back in the NFL right now. Blocking for McCaffrey and watching the running back embarrass defenders brings a smile to his face.

"Even the game-winning touchdown (against the Packers), that guy is unblocked in the hole," Williams said. "And obviously, that could have been a first down, we would have still been cheering, but for him to make that guy miss, and we say that's yours, you can't block all eleven.

"You got to leave one, and we tell the running back all the time, you got to take care of one. And 99 percent of the time, he's going to take care of his. So, you know if you can hold on to your guy for that split second, let him get through the line, he's going to create havoc."

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