49ers news: Deebo Samuel named to PFF’s top 32 wide receivers in 2021

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

The folks over at Pro Football Focus included the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel in their ranking of the top 32 wide receivers entering 2021.

There are a lot of reasons why fans should be excited about what San Francisco 49ers third-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel could offer the team entering 2021.

The Niners’ second-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft made an impression his rookie year, amassing 961 yards from scrimmage and six net touchdowns as both a rushing and receiving threat in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Unfortunately, an offseason foot injury last year, compounded by a midseason hamstring injury, limited Samuel’s second year to just seven games and 417 all-purpose yards.

The expectation is for that to change heading into 2021, though.

Pro Football Focus is bullish on 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, lists him as a top WR

Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash just put together his list of the top 32 wide receivers ahead of the upcoming season, and Samuel made the list at No. 31.

Some might consider this a slight, as Samuel was ranked far behind other pass-catchers like the Buffalo Bills’ Cole Beasley and the New York Jets’ Corey Davis. Yet PFF’s assessment, which admits Samuel’s injury problems from last year, isn’t too far off the mark:

"Injuries got in the way of a big sophomore breakout from Samuel, but when healthy, he was exactly what we expected: an after-the-catch phenom. Samuel has produced 9.8 yards after the catch per reception in his two NFL seasons. Not only does that lead all wide receivers, but it leads the group by a substantial margin of 2.5 yards. He has also broken 28 total tackles in regular-season play over that span, tying for the fifth-most at the position. He played only six games in 2020, so that’s pretty damn impressive."

Had Samuel stayed healthy, there’s little doubting he would have been ranked much higher on the list.

Read More: 6 best wide receiver duos in 49ers history

It might be viewed as a bit of a slight not to include fellow San Francisco Brandon Aiyuk, whose rookie season produced 748 receiving yards and five touchdowns over just 12 games played. But the Minnesota Vikings’ Justin Jefferson was the only 2020 rookie to make the list, so perhaps there’s some merit to leaving Aiyuk off.

At least for now.

One of the things the 49ers lacked last year was being able to field both Aiyuk and Samuel at the same time. The two saw the field together only six times last season, namely due to both Samuel and Aiyuk dealing with injuries and/or being on the reserve/COVID-19 list at various points throughout the Niners’ injury-riddled 2020 campaign.

Assuming Samuel stays healthy this season, though, there’s little reason to assume he won’t be a massive contributor.

And Aiyuk’s presence should go a long way towards helping Samuel turn into a bona fide force, living up to the kind of pedigree seen during his rookie year.

Next. 49ers' 10 best single-season performances in franchise history. dark