Nick Bosa was 49ers most impressive rookie, Deebo Samuel nearly so

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

While San Francisco 49ers EDGE Nick Bosa was the team’s most impressive rookie in 2019, wide receiver Deebo Samuel nearly was able to take over that accolade.

San Francisco 49ers EDGE Nick Bosa is highly likely to take home the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year award after his stellar inaugural season at the pro level, registering nine sacks and generally looking like a complete wrecking ball amid the Niners’ revamped defense during the regular season.

Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel isn’t going to receive any Offensive Rookie of the Year awards, unfortunately.

But that doesn’t mean Samuel was far and away behind Bosa, in terms of complete and overall impact to the team’s success and eventual 13-3 regular-season record. If anything, when Bosa’s traditional numbers sloughed off a bit down the stretch, Samuel was able to increase his prowess.

Over Samuel’s first seven games, he averaged just 32.4 receiving yards per contest. From Week 10 through the regular-season finale against the Seattle Seahawks, Samuel averaged 71.9 per game.

Granted, there’s a lot going into the comparison. The Niners adding veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders just before the NFL trade deadline took a lot of pressure off Samuel, while tight end George Kittle being healthy also made a massive difference. Bosa, meanwhile, had to overcome a slew of serious injuries to his fellow defensive linemates, including nose tackle D.J. Jones landing on injured reserve and fellow EDGE Dee Ford missing large chunks of the season.

Nick Bosa, 49ers
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

None of this is to downplay Bosa’s efforts, of course, rather just boosting up Samuel as another one of the excellent picks made by San Francisco in last April’s NFL Draft.

There are other factors and assets to chew on, too. For example, head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t just deploy Samuel as a boundary pass catcher, instead not hesitating to use him as a legitimate rushing threat on specialized plays.

Case in point, Samuel’s 30-yard end-around rush against the Seahawks in Week 17 for the 49ers’ first touchdown:

Samuel’s 802 receiving yards on 57 receptions and three touchdowns are impressive, yes. But when combined with his 159 rush yards, plus an additional three touchdowns, the net total of 961 yards from scrimmage in his rookie year is awfully commendable.

For comparison, Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens managed 953 and 520 all-purpose yards, respectively, their rookie seasons.

Granted, Samuel might not come anywhere remotely close to approaching those two players’ unreachable numbers. But the fact he’s already surpassed both in a pretty important category should be taken into consideration. It’s important.

And as far as Bosa goes, yes. He needs to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year. There shouldn’t be too much doubting that.

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Even though he won’t get it, Samuel should at least get some nods from the voters for Offensive Rookie of the Year, too.