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Brock Purdy, George Kittle share how Deebo Samuel’s absence impacts 49ers

Jul 10, 2024 at 12:20 PM

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Significant speculation has been surrounding the future of the San Francisco 49ers' wide receiver corps. Many believe that if the team reaches a long-term contract agreement with Brandon Aiyuk, it likely means 2024 will be Deebo Samuel's final season with the team.

San Francisco is preparing to make quarterback Brock Purdy one of the highest-paid players in NFL history. That contract negotiation will kick off after the upcoming season, making it challenging to afford two wideouts with top-tier salaries. Consequently, the 2024 season might be the last featuring both Aiyuk and Samuel.

If Samuel plays elsewhere in 2025, his on-field presence will be missed. Fans got a glimpse of life without the dynamic offensive weapon last season when Samuel suffered a hairline fracture in his shoulder early in a Week 6 contest against the Cleveland Browns. This injury forced him to miss most of that game and the two that followed.

The 49ers went 0-3 in those games.

Netflix recently released its docuseries "Receiver," which features Samuel and tight end George Kittle prominently. The third episode, titled "Moving Target," shares moments from the 49ers' three-game losing streak last season and the impact of Samuel's absence on the offense.

"We just do so much with Deebo within our offense," Purdy shared. "When he's out for that three-game stretch, it was tough for all of us, just because he's an explosive guy. He brings so much juice to our team and energy, and when you don't have that, it was definitely tough on us, for sure."

Samuel finished last season with 60 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns. He also carried the football 37 times for 225 yards and five scores, once again proving himself to be one of the most versatile weapons in football.

"Deebo's always a big part of the game plan," head coach Kyle Shanahan shared during the fourth episode of the series. "You got to do something defensively to take him out of that. And usually, when you do, we got a lot of other guys who we feel are going to have some very good looks after that."

While Samuel's presence can't be ignored, Aiyuk has led the team in receiving yards in each of the past two seasons and is seen more as a true WR1 within Shanahan's offense. Aiyuk has recorded two consecutive seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards, while Samuel has failed to surpass 900 receiving yards in either campaign.

Still, Samuel's absence would remove a crucial aspect of one of the NFL's best offenses.

"Our offense is very unique," Kittle shared during the docuseries. "A guy like Deebo, he's out on the outside running routes, on the inside running routes. He's in the backfield, he's in motion, little nuances to our offense that force teams to prepare for. And so when you remove a piece of that puzzle, it just makes it difficult."

"Receiver" is now available on Netflix, with all eight episodes ready to stream for subscribers.
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