Deebo Samuel’s transformation into an explosive hybrid weapon in San Francisco may be short-lived.
Samuel has requested a trade from the 49ers, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday. The order was sent over a week ago and was not a surprise as the team was aware of Samuel’s feelings about his position in the franchise, according to Rapoport.
Unlike other wide receivers who have created drama this offseason, Samuel’s problem with the 49ers isn’t money related. Samuel is uncomfortable with the way he was used in Kyle Shanahan’s 2021 offense, according to Rapoport, and has become uninterested in getting involved in long-term contract extension talks.
Samuel’s role changed dramatically to a smash hit in 2021. Shanahan employed Samuel as both a receiver and a versatile fielding weapon, handing him the ball as a running back and messy defenders. Samuel also ran out of the backfield and gained the most yards from scrimmage in a single season in his career, finishing with 1,770 yards and 14 total touchdowns.
At the start of the 2021 season, Samuel was racking up receiving yards at an incredible pace, breaking Jerry Rice’s franchise record for most receiving yards in the first seven games of a season with 44 receptions for 819 yards and four touchdowns in weeks. 1-8. . But just two weeks later, Shanahan and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel began moving Samuel to the backfield, increasing his use but also changing the types of touches Samuel received in games.
From Weeks 10 to 18, Samuel averaged 6.6 carries per game, gaining 42.9 yards per game, and scoring seven touchdowns. In that same time period, he was only catching 3.5 passes per game, essentially becoming more of a running back than a receiver.
The running back tends to be a more physically demanding position than the receiver, as the ball carrier receives more hits between tackles than receivers when lining up outside. That would certainly not help Samuel preserve his longevity in a career that is still in its early years.
With his potential as a versatile playmaker established, Samuel seems to prefer to remain wideout and retain his potential to cash in on a lucrative deal similar to those handed out to some of the league’s top wideouts this offseason. He can find this role on nearly every team in the NFL and is likely aware of this reality, making a switch request more logical from his perspective.
It looks like the 49ers are left with a decision to make: return Samuel to his preferred receiver position and find other ways to move the offense without handing Samuel the ball, or send him to a team that will and send significant 49ers compensation. . It’s not easy for any team to willingly trade a revolutionary talent like Samuel, but the 49ers could be forced to do so if they’re not willing to adjust to satisfy Samuel.