The San Francisco 49ers selected South Carolina wideout Tayshun “Deebo” Samuel with the 36th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Samuel’s personality and physical brand of football earned him the nickname inspired by the bully from the movie “Friday.” Now Deebo heads to the bay where coach Kyle Shanahan will be looking to take full advantage of Samuel’s imposing skillset.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen created a list of 15 rookies from the 2019 NFL draft who landed with the perfect teams. Samuel and the 49ers made the cut.
In the 49ers’ offense, coach Kyle Shanahan can dial up catch-and-run opportunities for Samuel. The South Carolina product is an aggressive runner in the open field, with the sudden movements to cut down defensive angles and break tackles.
Just think of the 49ers’ play-pass concepts that will create open-window throws for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to target Samuel on inside cuts. He has the ability to align outside of the numbers, but I see him generating more for the 49ers out of the slot, where he can tack on yards in the open field.
Samuel excels after the catch, particularly over the middle. He averaged a ridiculous 31 yards on slant routes in 2018, per Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus. Many of Samuel’s biggest plays involved forcing multiple missed tackles. His stocky frame (5-11, 215) and hard-nosed running style give him the appeal of a running back with the ball in his hands. Samuel also creates easy separation in his routes, a coveted trait that Shanahan saw first-hand while coaching at the Senior Bowl.
Samuel’s ability to make the hard catches over the middle will immediately mesh with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who prefers to target the center of the field. He’s capable of playing all three receiver spots in Shanahan’s offense, a versatility that’ll mesh well with second-year wideout Dante Pettis. Samuel also can return kicks and punts. He averaged 24.8 yards per return at South Carolina in 2018 and scored four times over his college career.
ESPN’s Mike Clay projected 44 receptions for 536 yards and two touchdowns for Deebo’s rookie year with the 49ers. There doesn’t appear to be much competition between Samuel and the starting role, likely filling the void left by veteran Pierre Garcon. Clay’s projections seem on the safe side. Eclipsing 50 catches and 700 yards is obtainable for Samuel, He was excellent in the red zone for the Gamecocks in 2018, scoring 11 times, Five touchdowns in 2019 seem like a reasonable over/under for his rookie season with the 49ers.