No. 3: WR Deebo Samuel
Early in the game, I made a joke that Kyle Shanahan had money on wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s MVP odds, because it really looked like Shanahan was doing everything he could to get the ball into the rookie’s hands.
The thing was, it was working, as Samuel finished the game with five catches for 39 yards along with three carries for 53 yards, and proved to be a problem for any member of the Kansas City defense that tried to tackle him.
The South Carolina product also set a Super Bowl record, surpassing former Seahawks wideout Percy Harvin, who ran for 45 yards in Super Bowl 48, for most rushing yards by a wide receiver in a single game.
Pro Football Focus also graded Samuel well for his performance, giving out a 72.0 overall, a 67.5 in the passing game, and a 71.7 as a runner. His overall grade was good enough for fifth highest on the offensive side of the fall for the 49ers.
Samuel’s strength with the ball in his hands has been a staple of the Niners’ offensive game plan over the second half of the 2019 season, and it proved to be vital to the team’s success over the first three quarters of Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup.
But for some reason the 49ers didn’t get the ball back to him after Samuel caught a pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to kickstart the Niners final touchdown drive at the 5:23 mark of the third quarter. Maybe this was one of the many things that went wrong for the team late in the game.
None of this takes away from the quality of Samuel’s performance, and that he would have had an outside shot at winning the MVP award had the 49ers prevailed.
And it certainly bodes well for the massive impact he can continue to have on the offense over the next several seasons, hopefully years that the team will continue to contend for championships.