49ers roster: 5 players most likely to have a breakout season in 2021

Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Deebo Samuel, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Breakout Candidate No. 3: Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel

2020 was supposed to be the year that wide receiver Deebo Samuel experienced a breakout campaign, but the only thing that broke was a bone in his foot, which sidelined him for the first three weeks of the season. Then, Samuel suffered additional injuries later in the year, which all combined to limit him to a mere 417 all-purpose yards and one touchdown over just seven games.

A far cry from the 961 net yards and six touchdowns he had his rookie season.

Fully recovered, Samuel now enters 2021 essentially as San Francisco’s tertiary pass-catching option behind All-Pro tight end George Kittle and fellow wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Defenses will likely double Kittle as much as possible, and Aiyuk’s impressive 2020 efforts will draw plenty of defensive attention, too, leaving Samuel prone to seeing plenty of one-on-one matchups on the field where he can use his speed and physicality to get back onto the trajectory many thought he’d carry over from 2019.

Combine that with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s tendency to use Samuel more as an “offensive weapon” than mere wide receiver, it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Samuel net over 1,000 yards receiving with another 200 or so on the ground.