Some are in the mindset that Samuel should rest up for the Super Bowl and not risk any further injury. But that’s how fans think, not players. This is the NFC Championship against a formidable opponent. There’s no guarantee the Niners advance. This is a situation where you push your chips in the middle and have all hands on deck.
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk thinks we’ll see No. 19 on the field Sunday:
“I do, personally, but just continue to pray for him that he can get better throughout the week and be out there with us to finish the job.”
The 49ers have depth at the position. Jauan Jennings was fantastic in Deebo’s absence. Chris Conley had one of the biggest receptions of the game in the fourth quarter. Ray-Ray McCloud has the speed for a big play. But they’re not Deebo. Nobody is.
Quarterback Brock Purdy was asked about the importance of having Samuel on the field:
“Yeah, it’s huge. Obviously he’s probably the best playmaker in this league. You get the ball in his hands, he can do whatever he wants. He makes guys miss, breaks tackles, he’s strong, he’s tough, he’s got grit and we all feed off it. Deebo definitely gives us some juice and energy and momentum on our offense. If he’s not playing, obviously that’s tough on us, but we’ll have guys to be able to play as well that can create that as well. If you’re asking me, we’d love for Deebo to play.”
The 49ers have to monitor Deebo’s injury closer than ever. He’s a player that is going to naturally have big collisions. Samuel lives over the middle of the field, which means big hits are inevitable. And that’s before factoring in when he lines up in the backfield as a running back. If there are any signs of him struggling, the Niners must pull him.
While that’s the worst-case scenario, Purdy believes the 49ers have a strong contingency plan if Samuel can’t play:
“Obviously we get guys that get banged up and may not play as much and whatnot from game-to-game. But we have some studs all across the board. We’ve got guys that can step up, [WR] Jauan Jennings, [WR] Ray-Ray McCloud [III], like you’ve got guys that can come in and do the job really well. So that’s something that’s cool about our team and what this organization has done.
Obviously they get guys that are willing to step in and continue to keep this thing going. We’ve shown that, I feel like throughout the years. Obviously the teams have to scheme to stop certain guys. I think at the end of the day they end up having to have to just play their way of football, rather than focusing so much on one certain guy because we have five, six, seven guys that they have to worry about. So that’s the cool part and that’s the team that we’ve got.”
Aiyuk said it it’s a group effort when Samuel or anybody goes down, and it’ll be up to everybody to elevate their game. Hopefully, that’s not something we have to find out.