Samuel, Williams show their value as leaders of 49ers offense

Nov 13, 2023, 12:30 PM | Updated: 1:07 pm

Deebo Samuel #19 and Trent Williams #71 of the San Francisco 49ers on the field before the game aga...

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

From the moment the 49ers walked through the visitors’ tunnel at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, you could feel the team’s fortunes were about to change. And that’s primarily due to the return of leaders Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams.

The offensive pair for the San Francisco 49ers made their return to the team in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both Samuel and Williams had been out of action with injuries since Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns. Since then, the 49ers offense has faltered, putting up only 17 points in each of their three losses this year.

That all changed in Week 10, when they put up 34 points on the red-hot Jaguars on the road coming off the bye week. And Samuel and Williams were a big part of that, both on the field and off of it. 

“I really don’t think you can quantify it. It’s a different energy, different burst,” 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey said about Deebo Samuel. “Just having him on the field. I’m not a defensive coordinator and I don’t play defense but, he’s somebody you have to focus on. And what he can do when the ball is in his hands, whether it’s in the receiving game or in the run game, is special.”

Samuel’s stats don’t necessarily jump off the page (59 total yards on seven touches and one touchdown), but it’s his ability to be interchangeable within Kyle Shanahan’s offense that makes him so valuable. Without the South Carolina native on the field, San Francisco isn’t the same team, as evidenced by the last three weeks.

And now that he’s fully healthy entering the second half of the season, the 49ers’ offense is back to the status quo.

“What Deebo brings to the table is a lot,” tight end George Kittle stated Sunday. “When you can move him and Christian, interchange them, the defense has to account for a lot of stuff and then you’ve taken all of our motions and all that stuff. There’s a lot going on for the defense to process every single play.”

And then you have Trent Williams, one of the 49ers’ leaders.

The future hall-of-fame left tackle returned in Week 10 after the team took it up to game-time on his less than 100% ankle. And while he wasn’t his peak self, he helped get the Red & Gold’s run game going again. But while the offense missed his production on the field, it’s his presence that uplifts the entire squad.

Case in point: The team’s walk-out entrance before each game. 

“What Trent does, besides being a first ballot Hall of Famer left tackle still playing at a very high level, his confidence that he brings into the huddle is fantastic. The way he gets guys hyped before drives, in the middle of drives. He’s incredibly encouraging. When you have a guy who’s a very vocal leader in the huddle, it just brings everybody up around him,” Kittle said.

Williams’ gravitas is also felt by the opposing team, especially in the run game. 

Christian McCaffrey ended Week 10 with his highest rushing total in a month (95 rushing yards), and that’s largely due to the left tackle. On one play in particular, CMC had a halfback toss to the left, with Williams leading the way. The tackle moved downfield with such speed and power that Jaguars cornerback Darious Williams actually backtracked, wary of taking on the 49ers’ big man. 

And Trent Williams noticed that, having a slight chuckle about the play with the media.

“It’s kind of weird because you know 31 [Darious Williams] turned around and ran. I ain’t never seen that,” the left tackle said with a smile.

All jokes aside, Williams wasn’t at 100% Sunday, as evidenced by the stat sheet. Regardless, his team needed to get back on track after a three-game skid. And that meant both the left tackle and Samuel returning a little sooner than expected, even if they aren’t full strength.

But after the duo’s play in Week 10, everyone saw how important both men are for the 49ers’ success moving forward. 

“I think it was huge. Losing four straight, I think a lot of people would have wanted to turn the panic lights on or, you know, we could have had our proverbial backs against the wall,” Williams explained. “So I think coming out, getting this win on the road against a really good team that’s been rolling, really good defense, really good players all around the field. To come out here and get a good one, I think is definitely what we needed.”

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, Nov. 19th vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Thursday, Nov. 23rd @ Seattle Seahawks – 5:20 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 3rd @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:25 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 10th vs. Seattle Seahawks – 1:05 p.m. PST
  • Sunday, Dec. 17th @ Arizona Cardinals – 1:05 p.m. PST

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