49ers players, coaches call Deebo Samuel an inspiration to team’s identity

Jan 28, 2024, 6:00 AM

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts during pregame warmups prior to an NFL football ...

Ryan Kang/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have been known to be a physical football team the last few seasons, with Deebo Samuel being the biggest bulldozer of them all.

The 49ers’ playmaker entered the practice week with doubt he could play Sunday in the NFC Championship game against the Detroit Lions. Samuel intially missed Wednesday’s practice with a shoulder injury. But after countless hours of rehab, he returned to the field a day later, and was cleared to play the day after that.

Now set to be fully healthy, San Francisco is excited to have one of their team leaders back in the huddle.

“Yeah, it’s huge for us. Deebo is a game-changer. He is one of the best in the NFL at what he does,” quarterback Brock Purdy said about Samuel Friday. “So obviously, for him to be able to play, all of us are like, all right, Deebo brings some juice and energy and we’ve got his back and so obviously seeing him run around at practice and look good for us, it’s like, all right, it’s on. So, we’re excited for him.”

Samuel is the first one out of the tunnel for walkouts on the 49ers. Joined by left tackle Trent Williams, Samuel leds the way onto the gridiron, dancing and singing along with the gigantic boombox assistant equipment manager Rob Lloyd has hoisted on his shoulder.

The South Carolina native is more than just a star player, he’s a tone-setter for the 49ers. Not just on offense, but for the defense as well.

“Deebo is one of the best players in the league,” defensive tackle Arik Armstead stated Friday. “And so having him on our team, having him on the field, we feel his energy when he’s making plays. He’s inspiring us on defense as well, because of how he plays the position and delivering punishment to opposing defenses. So, having him out there is gonna be great.”

While Samuel’s season statistics and awards will never amaze NFL historians down the line, the role he plays for the Red & Gold’s offense is vital.

When SF went on a three-game skid this season, that was without Deebo Samuel. Sure, other key members were also missing (Trent Williams), which may have factored in.

However, playoff time is different for the 49ers, with Samuel serving a much larger role. Prior to this playoffs, the playmaker racked up 765 scrimmage yards in nine games.

Simple put: The 49ers rely on Deebo to step up in big moments, especially his coach.

“Ah, it’s huge. A little scary at the beginning of the week, but the fact he was able to go full go today and no restrictions on him is definitely a good thing for us,” Kyle Shanahan said Friday.

Samuel missed most of three games earlier in the season with a hairline fracture in his left shoulder. When this most recent injury occurred, the player thought the same injury happened. Luckliy, he avoided serious damage so he could play in the NFC Championship.

And while it remains to be seen how his surgically-repaired shoulder will hold up, he’s confident it won’t dictate his physical nature one bit Sunday afternoon.

“I ain’t protecting nothin,” Deebo Samuel said.

Key dates for Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers

  • Jan. 28th – 3:30 pm PST vs. Detroit Lions (NFC Conference Championship)
  • Sunday, Feb. 4th – NFL Pro Bowl Games
  • Sunday, Feb. 11th – Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
  • Tuesday, Feb. 20th – Teams can begin franchising players until Tuesday, March 5th
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27 – NFL Combine begins

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