The San Francisco 49ers players have stepped into the media world this season. Arik Armstead has his podcast, where he recently hosted Javon Hargrave. Deebo Samuel has a weekly appearance with Kay Adams.
Samuel has a birthday coming up. He’ll turn 28 on January 15. On Adams’ show, Samuel said he only has one wish: “I just want to win game by game and just be in the middle of February holding that trophy up. That’s the only birthday wish I got right now.”
The 49ers are the Super Bowl favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook heading into the playoffs. The implied odds for the 49ers give them a 31 percent chance. Based on their odds, the Baltimore Ravens are second with a 24 percent chance. Those are the two overwhelming favorites.
It’s easy to compare this year’s version of the Niners to the team that made the Super Bowl just four years ago. By most statistical measures, the 2023 49ers are leaps and bounds better than the 2019 49ers.
Here’s Deebo’s answer when asked to compare each team:
“I feel like as a team, as a player, I feel like we are better. We’ve grown. We know what it felt like to be in that position to lose and kind of get the number one seed after the game. And I’m just in the locker room, and I’m just talking to the guys that was here in 2019. I said, ‘Bro, this kind of feels exactly the same besides the fact that we had to tackle the guy on the inch-yard line.’”
There’s been substantially less drama this time around. Not only is Deebo better, but Brandon Aiyuk is a more complete version of a receiver than Emmanuel Sanders was. As dangerous as Raheem Mostert’s speed made him, Christian McCaffrey commands more attention wherever he lines up on the field. Plus, Trent Williams.
Then there’s the quarterback. In 2019, the 49ers threw the ball 19 and eight times in the two games leading up to the playoffs. There’s a good chance that Brock Purdy throws the ball 27 times in the Divisional round alone.
There’s a reason for this team to be confident.
They didn’t need a goal-line stand in the final seconds of the regular season to clinch the top seed. San Francisco has looked like the team to beat since they came off their bye week in Week 10.
Samuel understands that he needs to live in the moment and not look too far ahead:
“It just kind of made me reminisce a little bit of what happened that caused us to lose a game and what we did to win those two games to get there. And so we kind of got to stay above water, got to take it day by day and game by game.”
That’s the mindset you have to have this time of year.