Deebo Samuel will go off when 49ers face Cowboys in NFL playoffs

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

42. CBS. Sunday, Jan. 16. 12-5. 123. Cowboys -3. 4:30 p.m. ET. 10-7

Deebo Samuel might be the 49ers’ best overall offensive weapon in the NFL playoffs when they face off against the Cowboys in the Wild Card round.

If the Dallas Cowboys want to pull off a Wild Card win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, they better have an answer for first-time first-team All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Samuel has been nothing short of insane this season, notching an incredible 1,770 all-purpose yards and team-best 14 touchdowns on the year, even passing for one more during the Niners’ thrilling Week 18 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

In short, Dallas has to be overly concerned with just how many ways head coach Kyle Shanahan uses the third-year pro on offense.

True, the Cowboys defense has enjoyed a massive turnaround under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn this season, and key playmakers like linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs have been crucial, too.

But, there are plenty of reasons to suspect Samuel going off once more when these two teams square off for a highly anticipated NFL playoffs bout on Sunday.

Deebo Samuel can torch Cowboys defense as a runner

Dallas is already suspect against the run during the regular season, giving up an average of 4.5 yards per carry, which ranks 23rd in the league over 18 weeks.

This plays right into San Francisco’s perceived game plan of running the ball a lot, both to control the time of possession and to take advantage of the Cowboys’ over-aggressive pass-rushing abilities.

Samuel, in particular, might be prone to getting to the outside where Dallas isn’t as poised to execute its run defense quite as well.

For all the talk surrounding Diggs, who has been exceptionable at forcing turnovers this season, he has been susceptible at missing tackles, especially defending against the run, and he has 10 already this season for a  missed-tackle rate of 16.1 percent.

That’s high.

The 49ers shouldn’t shy away from running Samuel right at Diggs on Sunday.

49ers must have Deebo Samuel be a YAC monster vs. Cowboys

Both Samuel and the Niners are excellent at generating yards after the catch. The Cowboys aren’t good at limiting yards after the catch.

Advantage: San Francisco.

Samuel finished the regular season with the league’s second most yards after the catch (780), trailing only Los Angeles Rams wideout Cooper Kupp (846), and the 49ers as a team mustered 2,264 in YAC over the course of 2021, eighth best in the NFL.

On the flip side, Dallas surrendered 2,275 in YAC during the regular season, which ranked fourth highest across the league.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo can’t shoulder the whole load vs. Cowboys

Going back to Diggs, whose 11 interceptions and two defensive interceptions are surely impressive, he nevertheless gave up 411 yards after the catch, suggesting his defensive-coverage skills are of the “feast or famine” variety to a certain point.

It might not always be wise for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to target Diggs, namely because of the turnover concerns. But, based on Diggs’ tendency of giving up big plays if he’s not forcing a turnover, Garoppolo shouldn’t shy away from relying on Samuel if he’s lined up opposite Diggs anyway.

And if Samuel winds up having yet another one of those takeover-type games, there’s an excellent chance the Niners come out on top during Wild Card weekend, too.

dark. Next. 10 biggest moments in historic rivalry between 49ers and Cowboys