Deebo Samuel says he’s in the best shape since his rookie season
Jul 26, 2023, 2:30 PM | Updated: 2:45 pm
Coming off a self-proclaimed “awful” 2022 season, Deebo Samuel has made it known that he’s coming into 2023 with a vengeance. Only one day into training camp, that seems to be coming to fruition.
The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver spoke on the changes that he made to his fitness regime this offseason, spending most of his days off in the gym working. And since he spent his time in the hot environment of Arizona, Samuel has been able to shed pounds like none other, convinced that he’s back to his rookie-season physique.
“This offseason has been pretty good for me. I think this is like the best shape that I’ve been in since 2019,” Samuel told the media Wednesday. “You got that long time of working out, long time of preparation, and like I took them 40 days and I really got to it and got to where I wanted to be.”
When asked what’s changed, the South Carolina native explained how he’s added different workouts into the mix, incorporating track & field, flexibility, mobility and boxing workouts to name a few. Last season didn’t include all that, as he was locked in a contract dispute with the 49ers for most of the summer. When he arrived at camp last year, he was slow, sluggish, and just wasn’t Deebo.
This year is a different story, feeling a huge difference on Day 1 of training camp.
“I feel kind of faster, lighter on my feet, easier to change direction,” Samuel said.
That desire to become a better self stems from his own willingness to compete, but also from his interactions with coach Kyle Shanahan.
The head honcho of the 49ers was blunt with his star pass catcher at the conclusion of last season, calling him out for his sluggish play all year. Samuel knew it too, and because of the trust they’ve built with one another, he was able to have an honest conversation with his coach. That, along with his body of work in the offseason, has been a treat to watch from afar for San Francisco.
Deebo explains the shirtless workout video he sent Kyle Shanahan 😂 pic.twitter.com/hZEh8LI7Xg
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) July 26, 2023
“I don’t think Deebo had to be that harsh on himself to you guys, but it was cool to watch,” Shanahan said Tuesday. “Deebo is one of the best players in this league and anytime he doesn’t play like one of the best players in this league, everyone’s going to be disappointed, including himself.
“That’s what’s been real cool with him in these 40 days away… Just seeing him yesterday for the first time. Never had a grown man send me so many pictures with his shirt off, but it looks good.”
All jokes aside, Samuel’s message of self-improvement has been seen in shades this summer. A former All-Pro in 2021, he hopes to return to that status this season. But as far as who he is in competition with as “one of the best players in the league”, he looks to himself only when working to get better.
And that’s a mantra that rings true with the rest of the wide receiver room.
“How we look at it, like, we’re our own competitors. We’re not competing with nobody else but ourselves,” Deebo Samuel said. “We just got to keep continuing to get better and not pay attention to the outside noise, just compete with ourselves.”