As the Deebo Samuel drama continues to turn, all eyes will be on General Manager John Lynch today at his pre-draft press conference. In today’s 49ers in Five podcast, I identified the biggest questions that need to be asked while Lynch is behind the microphone.
Why does Deebo Samuel want to be traded?
The question is obvious, but it is the fundamental question around which this whole situation orbits. Does Samuel want out because of something within the team’s control (like money or usage), or does he want out because of something outside the team’s control (like playing in California)?
If the reason lies beyond the team’s control, there’s not much to be done about that. On the flip side, fans deserve to know why, if it’s about money or if Lynch claims not to know. We need to know how things went from looking so good during the season to so bad that Samuel supposedly doesn’t even want a contract offer from the team.
Why was the team so confident it could sign him earlier in the offseason?
In February, Lynch didn’t sound worried about a new contract for Samuel.
“We have really good lines of communication with [Deebo and Bosa’s] representatives. Those will continue...Yes, there’s some interesting dynamics with Deebo playing multiple positions, but the bottom line is, he’s an excellent football player. I’m sure that we’ll find a way to get that done, and it’s been budgeted for.”
I never understood why Lynch always spoke about Deebo’s deal like it was already done. He’s been around long enough to know that nothing is done before it’s done. That’s what’s suspicious about the whole “Deebo hates California” narrative. If Deebo really disliked playing in CA so much, you would think someone from the 49ers would have picked up on that before now, and they wouldn’t have sounded so confident earlier this offseason.
How is it possible that we hadn’t heard one single rumbling about this before Deebo publicly requested a trade?
Will the 49ers honor his trade request?
You might think it’s a given that Samuel will get moved because of how many other star receivers have been traded this offseason, but that shouldn’t be the case.
Every team is different in how they handle these things, and Lynch’s reaction to this question, through both his words and his body language, will tell us a lot. Does he shift in the chair before answering? Does he look away from the camera? Or worse, touch his face while answering?
We’ve seen San Francisco dig their heels in before. Jimmy Garoppolo still being on the team is evidence of just how much they refuse to deal a player if they don’t get what they view as the proper value in return.
Are Lynch and company willing to fight battles on both the Deebo and Jimmy fronts?
What has the team done to try and repair the relationship?
While fans and media recently became aware of the trade request, reports are that Samuel told the team about his wishes early this month. What has been done from the time Deebo requested a trade until now? Have Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and/or Jed York flown to meet with Deebo to see if things could be worked out? Or did they just try to reach him via call and text?
If Deebo was hurt by an initial lowball contract offer, one or all of the Big Three making the effort to meet with him face-to-face could have gone a long way towards making sure Samuel felt the love once again.
Where do things stand with Nick Bosa’s contract extension?
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but there hasn’t been a single speck of news one way or the other about that situation. Given what’s happening with Deebo right now, the team better bend over backward to make sure the relationship with Bosa is rock solid. The only thing worse than losing Deebo this offseason would be losing Deebo AND not getting Nick Bosa signed. This had better come up, and Lynch had better have a good answer. In a perfect world, he’d break the news about a new deal being done during the press conference.
Certainly, those aren’t the only questions that should be asked when Lynch takes the podium, but it’s a good start. Ideally, Kyle Shanahan would be right by his side answering those as well. We all know who really calls the shots for this team, and as such, Kyle should have to face the music even more so than John - even if that is Lynch’s primary function at this point.