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“Smart teams should be calling Carolina about Curtis Samuel”

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Samuel is a perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense

Carolina Panthers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

As a general manager, picking up the phone to make an offer never hurts. Some trades that end up happening always shock us. DeAndre Hopkins going to Arizona Cardinals for less than a first-round pick and receiving a draft pick in return. There are trades where a veteran with one-year left on his deal goes for a Day 3 pick. The list goes on and on.

Spotrac put out a list of potential trade candidates in the NFL, and two of those names are San Francisco 49ers.

My bias doesn’t show often, but I’ve been a Curtis Samuel fanboy since he entered the NFL Draft a few years ago. There are a few players that are perfect fits for what Kyle Shanahan wants to do on offense that is available this offseason. Alabama’s wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is one—a player we talked about on Friday. Samuel fits the bill as well.

Kyle seems to prefer quickness over speed, which makes sense. You want a wide receiver that can separate in short areas. Samuel is quick and sudden. He’s also explosive. Samuel ran a 4.31 40-yard dash. Shanahan also wants receivers that can create for themselves. We see these quick screens to Deebo Samuel and a lot of quick-hitting passes that get wideouts in space. Samuel—who turns 24 in August and is entering the final season of his contract—thrives after the catch. Carolina threw Samuel ten passes behind the line of scrimmage last season. Samuel also had 19 carries for 130 yards. Ten of those went for 10+ yards. Samuel finished 2019 with 627 yards on 53 receptions and six touchdowns. Thirty-six of those receptions went for first downs.

Samuel did have seven drops on 103 targets. For reference, Deebo had eight drops on 94 targets. Both of those numbers are too high, but both players are also walking big plays, and you’ll live with a drop here and there. Samuel’s PFF grade is low, but that had more to do with who is throwing him the ball than Samuel’s skill. While he is good underneath, Samuel is a true downfield threat as well—something the 49ers need to open up the offense. Samuel was targeted over 20 yards 27 times last season, which is about three times as much as any Niners wideout in 2019. The fit makes too much sense. What would he cost, though?

Compensation

Samuel was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. It’s hard to imagine Carolina getting that type of compensation for him now. The Panthers just signed Robby Anderson to a new deal, so it makes sense why Samuel is on the “trading block,” with Carolina recently investing a first-round pick at wide receiver in D.J. Moore.

This could be a draft-day trade where the 49ers move back from No. 31 and acquire more a third or fourth-round pick. Darius Slay went for a third and a fifth, and he’s one of the most established players at a premier position in the league. If I can get Samuel for a Day 3 pick, I’m pulling the trigger on that deal immediately. If the Panthers want a third and another Day 3 pick, be my guest. He’s that good. Don’t be fooled by his stats. That’s a Kyle Allen issue, not a Curtis Samuel issue. If you need to deal a pick in 2021 to get this deal done, so be it.

The 49ers would need to work out a long-term deal with Samuel, which shouldn’t be an issue with the salary cap set to spike as well as the team’s lack of wideouts currently on the roster. A future of Deebo, Samuel, and a receiver at No. 13 would give the 49ers a three-headed monster that would keep them in a championship window for the next few seasons.