Breaking News: I just spoke to wide receiver Deebo Samuel — and he told me that he has asked the 49ers to trade him.
He did not want to discuss specific reasons behind his request, but he has indeed let the 49ers know his desire to leave the organization. More to come.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) April 20, 2022
It has been rumored that he wants out not just because he hasn’t been offered a new contract, but also because he’s unhappy about the way the team has used him in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
It remains to be seen if the 49ers will cave in to Samuel’s trade demand, or if they will stand firm and hold on to him, at least for the time being.
But one thing is for sure: The 49ers likely won’t continue to be Super Bowl contenders if Samuel leaves the Bay Area.
Samuel Is Unique And A Huge Part Of San Francisco’s Offense
Quite often this past season when the Niners needed a big play, they looked to Samuel.
He put up 1,405 receiving yards in 2021 to go along with six receiving touchdowns and 51 first downs, and he also made his mark by ranking second in the National Football League in yards after the catch.
Samuel was also used as a running back as the season progressed, which allowed him to collect 365 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
91 seconds of Deebo Samuel at running back pic.twitter.com/gmGbGGnI8y
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 21, 2021
But none of them have shown the type of next-level ability that Samuel displayed in 2021.
In the Niners’ Divisional Round playoff win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, he had 73 total yards, as well as 59 yards on two kick returns, and he made a number of big offensive plays late in the contest.
There are some questions as to whether Samuel’s production this past season is sustainable over the long term, especially in terms of his production out of the backfield.
Lining him up as a running back may be good for the team, but it will also result in more wear-and-tear while making him age faster and increasing his risk of injury.
Who Else Would Step Up For San Francisco?
Unless the 49ers are fortunate enough to have someone such as Aiyuk emerge as a Pro Bowl-level wideout, Samuel’s potential departure will doom the team.
As it is, they ranked just 13th in points scored, 12th in passing yards, and 14th in passing touchdowns, and without Samuel, those numbers will certainly go down.
If San Fran decides to bite the bullet and deal Samuel, it may receive a good return in terms of draft picks, but it is unlikely to receive a high-level wideout from another team.
The team’s lack of salary cap space would make it even more difficult to reload if or when Samuel leaves.
Luckily for the 49ers, the NFC looks somewhat weaker than it was in 2021, so perhaps they could still make the playoffs without him.
But making it to the Super Bowl, or even the NFC Championship Game would seem like a stretch.