The 49ers first-team offense saw the field, but it was short and sweet against the Denver Broncos Saturday night. Brock Purdy had a handful of attempts, with two of them targeting Deebo Samuel.
Samuel is only one season removed from an epic 2021 season where he was an All-Pro. But his perceived struggles in 2022 have been well-documented, namely, from himself. Samuel’s numbers were down a year ago, but he also missed four games. Still, when Deebo was on the field, he wasn’t his usual self.
That wasn’t the case during his first preseason action. Samuel caught a pair of screens, taking one 25 yards and another 14 yards. We saw his typical explosive first step that led to two first downs. As was the case in 2021, Samuel had more yards after the catch (43) than he did receiving yards (39).
Purdy has noticed a difference in Deebo during this past month of practice:
“Yeah, I think Deebo has obviously taken last year’s film and everything and has been real with himself, and man, you’ve seen like a different mindset with him all throughout camp. Every single rep, even if he’s not getting the ball, like he’s running extremely hard and doing his part for the team.
And so today I feel like you saw a little glimpse of how he is going to do his job, when he gets the ball, he’s going to be Deebo, but even when he doesn’t, he’s still going to be where he needs to be and be there for the team and sort of set the standard. And so, Deebo’s done a great job with that and we’re really excited about what he’s going to do.”
It’s a heck of a luxury for a quarterback to have a threat like Deebo as a check down option or that being your screen receiver. Kyle Shanahan said Samuel has taken a step forward since training camp began:
“Yeah. I mean, Deebo is always a guy who people respect. I mean, from how he plays to how he carries himself. So, a lot of guys look up to Deebo, but yeah, he has been great this year. Everyone knows how he’s come back and been ready to go and the way he’s practiced and I think the way he’s treated all those guys has been definitely taken a step forward in that way.”