No. 4: Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel
The 49ers sorely missed Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle during their Week 10 loss to the Seahawks. And Kittle’s knee and ankle injuries kept him out of the Niners’ win over the Cardinals in Week 11, too.
Fortunately for San Francisco, veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was able to take the field in Week 11 despite suffering a ribs injury.
Yet Sanders exited the contest prematurely. And while the two players’ injuries hindered the 49ers efforts the past two weeks, it was reassuring to see rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel step up in response.
Samuel has managed back-to-back 100-yard receiving games the past two weeks, which is indicative of the kind of rapport he’s developing with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Even when Kittle and Sanders return, however, Samuel’s role isn’t going to go away. Kittle will likely remain the team’s middle-of-the-field threat, while Sanders is all but going to command the attention of opponents’ top cornerbacks.
This opens the door for Samuel, who needs to be just as reliable a target for Garoppolo and San Francisco’s 15th-ranked passing offense.