Deebo Samuel personifies ‘greatness’ in biggest moments for the 49ers

Dec 5, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 9:33 am

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a touchdown during the fourth quarter ...

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 03: Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after a touchdown during the fourth quarter in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 03, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Some athletes are made for the biggest stages and the brightest of lights. That sums up Deebo Samuel to a tee.

The San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver is more than his job description, able to single-handily take over a game. He did that in Week 13 in Philadelphia, going for 138 total yards and three touchdowns on just seven touches. And he did it when the 49ers’ backs were against the wall.

Despite being up 21-6 in the third quarter, the momentum shifted back to the Eagles when 49ers’ linebacker Dre Greenlaw was ejected from the game due to an incident with Philadelphia’s head of security. The moment allowed Philly’s offense to march downfield and punch it in to make the score, 21-13.

But just when the game had flipped, Deebo Samuel rose to the occasion.

Near midfield, the wideout took a slant over the middle and converted it into a 48-yard score. Shedding one tackle, Samuel was off to the races, splitting the defense as he barreled his way into the endzone.

In one play, Samuel flipped the whole contest back to the visitors by putting them up two scores once more.

But it was more than that, the team’s emotional leader had stepped up when they needed him to, backing up all the trash talk since January.

“I ain’t gonna lie, I was in that zone all week long,” Samuel said postgame Sunday. “Talkin’ trash, it’s just part of the game. Hopefully nobody took it to heart.”

Samuel and the 49ers suffered a devastating loss in the NFC Championship game a season ago to the Eagles, 31-7. The team lost quarterback Brock Purdy in the first quarter, and then eventually backup QB Josh Johnson, to injuries.

Without a gunslinger, the Red & Gold were helpless in the biggest game of the season for them.

Since then, Samuel and Co. have been beefing with the Eagles, stating that the contest would have been different if Purdy hadn’t torn his UCL.

And as it turns out, he was right, putting the exclamation point on the contest late.

Taking a screen pass on the left side, Samuel used his onslaught of blockers to carve a path through the first two levels of the defense. Once he got through the hole, he was gone, dancing his way to a 46-yard score to make it 42-19 late in the fourth quarter. The final nail in the coffin of an impressive showing for the 49ers.

But more impressive for Samuel, showcasing his unique abilities after the catch.

“Cornerbacks and safeties aren’t very excited to tackle him,” left tackle Trent Williams said about his teammate. “Once he gets a full head of steam, he don’t have to bring a lot of finesse to the party.”

Deebo Samuel has been doing this since he was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft. Not just playing at a high level (over 4,700 scrimmage yards in less than five seasons) but showing up in the big moments for the 49ers.

In last season’s NFC wild-card round, the South Carolina native put up 155 total yards and one touchdown on nine touches against the Seattle Seahawks. And that was with Samuel proclaiming his 2022 season as “awful” in every aspect. Before that, the wide-back had owned the Los Angeles Rams, putting up 762 total yards and seven TDs in eight games against them.

The proof is in the pudding for Samuels’ value to the 49ers, with his teammates as grateful as ever that he’s able to pick his spots for a breakout day.

“I think he’s the epitome of unselfishness,” defensive end Nick Bosa said about Samuel. “He got paid and obviously that comes with a lot of pressure to be the guy. And when you have so many dudes, you’re not going to get those opps very often. But I love the fact that he can talk and set the stage and walk into a hostile environment and just thrive. That’s what greatness is made of, for sure.”

While his season-long stats are never eye-popping (only one season over 1000 scrimmage yards), the 27-year-old playmaker is one of the most important members of the red-hot San Francisco 49ers.

Sure, he’d love to match his 2021 total of 1,770 total yards. But it’s not about that for Samuel or the rest of the 49ers for that matter; This is about winning football games and holding up the Lombardi Trophy he missed out on in February 2020.

No sacrifice, no victory.

Upcoming 49ers Schedule:

  • Sunday, Dec. 10th vs. Seattle Seahawks – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 17th @ Arizona Cardinals – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Monday, Dec. 25th vs. Baltimore Ravens – 5:15 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 31st @ Washington Commanders – 10:00 a.m. PST
  • Sunday, Jan. 7th vs. Los Angeles Rams – TBD

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