Is Deebo Samuel the 49ers answer for wide receiver No. 1?

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

With the San Francisco 49ers still trying to figure out just who is their No. 1 wide receiver, rookie Deebo Samuel makes a pretty strong case.

Heading into the 2019 NFL season, expectations of wide receiver Dante Pettis were high he would secure the top spot on the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver depth chart.

But, just three games in, rookie receiver Deebo Samuel has sprung to the top of the Niners’ pecking order.

With the 49ers in need of strengthening their receiving corps during the offseason, they spent a 2019 Round 2 NFL Draft pick on Samuel with the hope he could perform from year one and add that much needed depth head coach Kyle Shanahan was in need of.

And so far, he has failed to let down both coaching staff and fans alike.

Sure, there may be some rookie tendencies that still need working out, which both Shanahan and Samuel have acknowledged. But, for the most part, Samuel is on his way to having quite the reasonable rookie year.

With the conclusion of Week 3’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Samuel is leading his fellow wide receivers in yardage. Samuel has 11 receptions from 14 targets for 147 yards, averaging 13.4 yards per reception and one touchdown.

Accruing 147 yards from his first three games, Samuel is on track to surpass the 49ers’ pitiful 2018 record where not one wide receiver would rack up 500 receiving yards.

As we go down the list, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who has returned to form, pulls up second spot, with six receptions from eight targets for 125 yards, averaging 20.8 yards per reception and one touchdown.

While the aforementioned Pettis, who had an underwhelming preseason led by inconsistencies and hampered by minor injuries, has seen minimal field time thus far with five receptions from six targets for 27 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per reception and one touchdown.

Samuel brings with him the raw speed and power along with the ability to run his assigned routes, which has helped him either push through defenders or simply bypass them. Built more like a running back than a wideout, he again leads all wide receivers with an average of 8.1 yards after the catch per reception.

After Week 2’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Shanahan had good things to say about Samuel’s route running. Something which led him to draft Samuel in the first place.

“Deebo, I thought, did some really good things when he got the ball in his hand and I also thought he ran some of his best routes that he’s done, especially that first play of the third quarter.” Shanahan said. “I thought that was the best route that he’s had since he’s been here. Even the one that he dropped was a really good route.”

So far, the 49ers running backs have gone above beyond what is expected of them, with much of the Niners’ total offensive yardage made up of rushing yards. And, while some of this yardage can be attributed to great blocking, not only from the offensive line, but also tight ends and receivers. The running backs have still performed to a great standard on their own.

The wide receiver group is still one that hangs in the air. The return of injured wide receivers Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd will no doubt assist the 49ers in getting some momentum going in their receiving game. But other than Samuel and, at times, Goodwin, no one else is yet to rise to take that No. 1 receiving spot.

Next. Dante Pettis vindicated in 49ers Week 3 win vs. Steelers. dark

With the 49ers deciding to steer clear of big-name receivers during free agency and instead putting all their hopes on the draft, Samuel looks to be their man so far.