Kyle Shanahan: Deebo Samuel ‘playing as good as I’ve seen him play’

Sep 20, 2023, 8:30 AM | Updated: 9:25 am

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against th...

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Deebo Samuel has undergone a mini-renaissance in his NFL career, bouncing back from a lackluster 2022 season in his eyes. Only two weeks into the new season, Kyle Shanahan has noticed the difference in spades.

The San Francisco 49ers’ coach spoke about how Samuel got his groove back, with the conversations starting in the spring.

After coming into training camp late last season due to a contract holdout, the do-it-all wideout wasn’t the same, bombarded by fatigue and fitness issues for most of the year. That in turn led to his lowest output since 2020 (864 scrimmage yards).

Wanting to get ahead of the curb this offseason, Shanahan and Samuel sat down during OTAs in May and hashed it out.

“Deebo comes to talk a lot, but I’d say I started that conversation a little bit. I had spent a lot more of the offseason here. So, I’d been going through the tape for five months straight and Deebo missed phase one and two and came in phase three. So, it was the first time I got to see him in a while. And we had a lot of stuff to catch up on. Usually you review all that stuff earlier on, but since he missed that, we waited till then,” Kyle Shanahan explained Tuesday.

And while those conversations are never easy, especially with one of your star players, it was necessary to get the most out of him. And it worked, with Shanahan and Samuel’s relationship allowing them to have an honest heart-to-heart.

So much so, that when Samuel addressed the media a few hours later, he kept it real, saying that he’d never put anything like his 2022 film on display again.

“It was a very positive, good conversation. It wasn’t hard or anything, but it was a very real conversation,” Shanahan said. “That’s what I love about Deebo so much because he’s an extremely real person and if you talk to him the right way and you show him stuff, he’s not going to B.S. us or himself. And I didn’t expect him to come have that reaction with you guys a couple hours later. But I was very pleased with the result.”

The results on the field this season are from his work in the gym during the offseason.

Deebo Samuel trained in Arizona for the majority of the summer, letting the scorching, desert heat melt the calories instantaneously. Doing differing cardio regimes all summer, the wideout is now in the best shape of his career.

And that has shown on the field.

The 27-year-old was electric in Week 2 against the L.A. Rams, going for 101 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

His score swung the game back in the 49ers’ favor, taking a screen pass 11 yards to the house. Weaving his way through numerous Rams’ defenders, Deebo Samuel tip-toed along the left sideline before cutting back inside to land in the endzone.

It was vintage Deebo; only accomplished by the fruits of his labor in the offseason.

“He’s in much better condition. He had a much better training camp. He was able to get through it all and get better throughout it. Last year he had some setbacks coming in, wasn’t able to go through training camp and kind of was in and out throughout the whole year.

“And now it’s just like camp. He’s in the best shape, doesn’t have to come out as much, doesn’t have to take as many plays off and is playing as good as I’ve seen him play.”

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Thursday, September 21st vs. New York Giants – 5:15 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 1st vs. Arizona Cardinals – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 8th vs. Dallas Cowboys – 5:20 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 15th @ Cleveland Browns – 10:00 AM PST

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