With the 49ers visiting the two-win Jaguars in Week 11, Deebo Samuel will look to continue his torrid pace against one of the league’s worst pass defenses.
The San Francisco 49ers need to avoid the pitfalls of having a letdown game in Week 11 when they travel on a short week across the country to take on the 2-7 Jacksonville Jaguars for an early start time. This, after the Niners pulled off their most impressive victory of the season by beating the Los Angeles Rams 31-10 on Monday Night Football.
To avoid the letdown, it would be a wise move for head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. to continue featuring their best player of the year so far, wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
Samuel’s rocket-like ascent in 2021 has been nothing short of extraordinary. With 979 receiving yards over nine games played, which currently ranks second among all NFL pass-catchers entering Week 11, the third-year pro out of South Carolina is on pace to reach nearly 2,000 receiving yards on the year and is even a modest game away from being San Francisco’s first 1,000-yard wide receiver since Anquan Boldin back in 2014.
Against the Jaguars, owners of a shoddy defense this season, Samuel should have no trouble reaching that mark and then some.
Jaguars don’t have much to stop 49ers WR Deebo Samuel
Entering this contest, Jacksonville ranks 27th overall in scoring defense and has surrendered 2,344 passing yards, 25th in the league. Even more provocative for a big game from Samuel, the Jaguars are giving up an average of 7.2 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 28th.
So far, Samuel alone is averaging 18.1 yards per reception this season. And he’s also leading the league in yards after the catch with 521. The Jags, meanwhile, have already surrendered 1,047 yards after the catch this season.
No. 1 cornerback Shaquill Griffin has had a quality season with 35 tackles, five passes broken up and a forced fumble, cumulating into a very-good 72.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
Fellow boundary cornerback Tyson Campbell, however, has allowed 26 completions on 40 targets for 373 yards on the season, amounting to a significantly lower 54.9 overall PFF grade.
Unless the Jags are literally hoping Griffin shadows Samuel’s every move, there will be frequent chances for the 49ers to get their top receiver involved.
49ers must funnel their offense through Deebo Samuel
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Niners offense experienced a bit of a slump, even though Jacksonville isn’t anywhere close to being equipped to handle even the most modest NFL offenses this season.
Starting running back Elijah Mitchell might miss time after suffering a finger injury last week, and No. 2 running back Jeff Wilson Jr. only just made his debut a week ago after suffering a torn meniscus last offseason. So, if the offense-sparking ground attack isn’t at 100 percent for Week 11, Samuel might have to provide this.
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Sure, San Francisco might explore using Samuel as a running back-type weapon again, as he had five carries and a touchdown as a tailback versus Los Angeles. But simply putting him in space as the primary go-to weapon can more than make up for any lack of ground prowess the 49ers may otherwise have this Sunday.
Putting things bluntly, it’s never a bad idea to feature a team’s best player in any game regardless of the circumstances. And in the Niners’ case, the best player is Samuel.