Arguably no position player was more important to his team last year than Deebo Samuel. When 49ers running backs were dropping faster than a toddler carrying a cup full of Cherrios, Deebo put the offense on his back and carried them to victory. The same cannot be said for this year, however, and Kyle Shanahan knows why.
“We’re not surprising anybody, that’s for sure. Everyone knows how committed all 11 guys have to be when Deebo’s back there, because they know what he can do. So that always makes it harder when you can’t surprise the league, because everyone knows how good he is.
But I do think there’s a few opportunities. He’s still got his numbers to a degree, didn’t get them last night. But I still believe if on a number of those plays if we can execute the blocks just a little bit better, I think Deebo’s got a good chance to get a big one and that’s why you get those opportunities because he’s the best guy on our team that has the chance to get the big one and we just have to get him back there when we have a better look for him.”
On the surface, things don’t look that bad. Deebo has 111 yards on 17 carries, which works out to 6.5 yards per attempt. A deeper look at the stat sheet shows that 51 of those yards came on a single carry against the Seahawks. Take that away, and Samuel has 16 rushes for just 60 yards, which is a paltry 3.75 yards per attempt.
This shouldn’t exactly alarm anyone, considering defensive coordinators had the entire offseason to break down game film and stop Samuel from running wild in 2022. Those guys get paid, too, as the saying goes.
What should alarm you is the fact that the 49ers currently have more fumbles than rushing touchdowns through three games, and are averaging less than 4 yards per carry as a team without that long Deebo run against Seattle.
If Samuel isn’t going to be able to run the ball as effectively this year, Kyle Shanahan is going to have to come up with a new way to move the ball as the injuries continue to pile up. As you can see below, he may have already done just that.
If you can get Deebo matched up in man coverage against a linebacker, you do it. Hopefully, the added wrinkle is enough to keep defenses guessing, and hopefully we have a quarterback that can reliably complete the pass when they do.
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