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What are reasonable expectations for Deebo Samuel in 2022?

Through the air or on the ground, don’t expect a repeat of last year

If Hollywood has taught us anything over the years, it’s that sequels are hard. Going into 2021, no one would have predicted that Deebo Samuel would have a season for the ages. Now that we’re steamrolling towards the start of training camp in 2022, Levin Black and I wondered what we should expect from Samuel this season in today’s Gold Standard podcast.

The premise of today’s episode was a take-it-or-leave-it scenario where one of us would throw out a statistical milestone that the other would either accept or reject. If you’d be happy with said milestone, you’d take it, but if you thought there was a good chance the player could do better in 2022, you’d leave it.

When it came to Deebo Samuel, the number of receiving yards I threw out there was 1,100, which would be the second best year of Samuel’s career. Levin decided he’d sign for that right now.

“I think I’d take that, in all honesty. Yes, that’s a drop off of more than 300 yards, but to me, 1,100 yards is still a really good year. I think [Brandon] Aiyuk is going to have more this year than he had last year. He led the team in receiving yards in the second half of last year.

I think people are gonna look at Deebo and be disappointed if he doesn’t repeat [1,400 yards]. The number of receivers that have repeated 1,400 yard seasons is probably three or four people. It’s probably Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, and Julio Jones. That’s probably the entire list. It’s not something you should expect. If you get 1,100-1,200 yards out of Deebo, or any wide receiver, you should take that every single time - unless they have four or five years in a row proving otherwise.”

Both out of curiosity and hoping Levin would look bad, I wondered how many people were actually on that list. Thanks to our own Michelle Magdziuk, I now have the answer. In the history of the NFL, there have only been 12 players to ever rack up 1,400+ receiving yards in at least two straight years. Jerry Rice, Julio Jones, Marvin Harrison, Demaryius Thomas, Michael Thomas, Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens, Justin Jefferson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Randy Moss. In the annals of NFL history, that’s a pretty exclusive list.

A couple of observations about the group that I couldn’t help but notice since I’m a nerd for this stuff. Rice and Andre Johnson are the only players with two separate streaks, with Rice being the first to ever accomplish the feat between 1989 and 1990. Julio Jones did it five straight years between 2014 and 2018, and Justin Jefferson has the league’s only active streak in his first two years in the NFL. Even in a pass-happy league, that’s damn impressive.

To get back to the matter at hand, none of this is to say that Deebo is incapable of producing another 1,400 yard season. He certainly is, especially considering the fact that he wasn’t really used that much as a receiver down the stretch last year. After Week 9, Deebo only had one game with more than six targets. All the skills are there, clearly.

The only point we made on the show is that expecting another season of 1,400 yards is unfair, especially considering how rarely it happens in NFL history, and the amount of great players on offense that will eat into Samuel’s opportunities.

If the stars were to align for a second straight year and Deebo did produce another stellar season in 2022, it’s safe to say he would be putting himself on a Hall of Fame trajectory and that shiny new contract would he’s going to get would be well-earned.

Other topics in today’s episode

  • What the hell is the idea for today’s show? (4:48)
  • Trey Lance touchdowns in 2022: 31 (5:34)
  • Would you take 3,500 passing yards this year for Lance? (10:16)
  • How much will a healthy finger improve Trey’s passing? (13:30)
  • How confident are you that Trey can start at least 16 games? (18:23)
  • Would you sign for 12 interceptions thrown by Lance? (20:13)
  • What are reasonable expectations for Deebo this year? (24:18)
  • How much will Jennings’ role increase in 2022? (28:05)
  • Does Deebo reach 10 total TDs this year? (30:29)
  • Is this the season Brandon Aiyuk breaks out? (33:06)
  • How much does Kittle’s receiving total change with Trey under center? (34:44)
  • Yards by the 49ers’ leading rusher this year: 900 (41:42)
  • Why Stats wouldn’t sign for 17 Nick Bosa sacks right now (47:23)
  • Can the defense repeat their top ten performance in points allowed this year? (50:01)
  • Can Charvarius Ward do something no 49ers CB has done in a decade? (57:52)
  • Would you sign for 10 wins right now? (1:04:53)