No. 1: 49ers Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel
It couldn’t be anyone else, right?
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel has been the Niners’ MVP over the entirety of 2021, and it’s not even close. Not only does Samuel lead the team with 1,131 yards from scrimmage, 137 of which have been of the rushing variety, but his 994 receiving yards still rank second in the NFL among all pass-catchers entering Week 12.
And those yards from scrimmage? It’s the third most in the league, too, which is considerable when factoring in the volume carries for players like running back Jonathan Taylor.
Simply put, San Francisco could have easily lost two or three more games if Samuel wasn’t an X-factor.
It’s not just Samuel’s pass-catching prowess that’s making an impact, though. No matter how he’s gotten the ball in his hands, Samuel is a potent threat. It could be catching a short pass with 5 air yards traveled, then turning it into a 20-yard gain. Or, just as common, Samuel can take a running back handoff, such as his 25-yard rushing touchdown against Jacksonville in Week 11.
When the 49ers have lost games, Samuel has still kept them competitive. And when the Niners have won, Samuel has been a major reason why.
And no one else has shouldered the offensive load this season more than him.