49ers WR Deebo Samuel must avoid sophomore slump
By Peter Panacy
49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel came on strong late in 2019, yet the sophomore slump would be a big hit on his rising stock value.
Deebo Samuel is the best wide receiver on the San Francisco 49ers, and yet he’s already in danger of having the proverbial “sophomore slump” that has the potential to plague so many second-year players at the pro level.
If for no other reason than the offseason Jones fracture Samuel suffered in his left foot during unofficial team workouts.
Samuel, the Niners’ Round 2 pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, had a history of injuries during his time at South Carolina. And while his latest setback is projected to keep him out of the lineup as late as potentially the first quarter of the regular season only, going through what can be a complicated injury and recovery isn’t a good sign.
Still, Samuel showed all the reasons why head coach Kyle Shanahan was so enamored with him prior to San Francisco making that second-round selection. Shanahan didn’t hesitate to use Samuel as just a wide receiver, giving him an additional 159 rush yards to go along with his position-team-leading 802 receiving yards for a combined six touchdowns.
And those numbers ramped up as Samuel got more comfortable in the offense:
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Granted, Samuel’s uptick in production during the second half paralleled the Niners’ addition of veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders. With Sanders gone in free agency, Samuel now emerges as San Francisco’s bona fide No. 1 option at the position.
The injury is a setback, yes. But the stock value for Samuel overall is still rising. And as long as he can avoid that second-year slump, one which plagued fellow wide receiver Dante Pettis, Samuel could emerge as a legitimate Pro Bowl candidate in year two of his professional career.
Niner Noise’s annual “Who Is?” series details how.