Deebo Samuel menaced Packers in 2020 NFC Championship, too

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass and gets tackled by Kevin King #20 of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass and gets tackled by Kevin King #20 of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

0-0. 49. Packers -6. Fox. 42. Saturday, Jan. 22. 8:15 p.m. ET. 1-0

The 49ers get to play the Packers again in the NFL playoffs, and Deebo Samuel already has a positive history tormenting Green Bay in the postseason.

The San Francisco 49ers needed wide receiver Deebo Samuel to be at his best if they wanted to pull off a road-upset win in the Wild Card round over the Dallas Cowboys.

And a Samuel-like best is exactly what the Niners got, as the 2021 first-team All-Pro gained 110 total yards from scrimmage and added to the final 23-17 score with a 26-yard rushing touchdown, evading a swarm of would-be Dallas tacklers in the process.

Despite a flurry of San Francisco mistakes elsewhere, surely not enough to eclipse the Cowboys’ own gaffes, Samuel nevertheless emerged as the 49ers’ MVP from the game.

Generally speaking, when top players turn in MVP-like performances, those teams typically win. The Niners sure did.

Now, with another highly anticipated NFL playoffs matchup looming against the No. 1-seeded Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the divisional round, San Francisco is going to need even more from Samuel if it wants to pull off yet another upset.

Fortunately, Samuel has a good (albeit small) history against Green Bay.

49ers fans saw a glimpse of Deebo Samuel being special vs. Packers in 2020 NFC Championship game

It’s worth noting how the 49ers walloped the Packers two seasons ago in the 2020 NFC Championship game, pulling off a one-sided 37-20 victory over quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Co. in a game where the final score makes it seem closer than the game actually was.

Sure, running back Raheem Mostert got most of the credit for that domination, rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns as the Niners cruised into the Super Bowl.

But Samuel, only a rookie at the time, showcased the dual-threat abilities way back then, too, including this impressive play against a completely demoralized and bewildered Green Bay defense:

That was one of only two rushing plays Samuel had during the game, yet he nevertheless rushed for a total of 43 yards during the game, adding to the 46 yards receiving he also had on two receptions.

A total of 89 dual-purpose yards, made even more special considering the fact quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed only six pass attempts during the game.

Those figures might have been eclipsed by Samuel’s subsequent efforts, including what he did versus Dallas last Sunday.

But if San Francisco wants to advance beyond Green Bay and play in the NFC Championship again this season, Samuel will have to be at his top form.

49ers will need Deebo Samuel to be massive again vs. Packers

Mostert is sidelined for the year with a knee injury suffered way back in Week 1, yet the 49ers have received stellar play on the ground from rookie running back Elijah Mitchell.

The Packers would be wise to key in on Mitchell, yes, but the wide-open nature of the Niners’ ground attack will be made that much more potent if Samuel maintains that kind of prowess he’s shown for the bulk of 2021 and into the first playoff game of 2022.

A key reason why? Green Bay finished the regular season with an average of 4.7 yards-per-carry against on the ground, third worst in the NFL.

Read More: 5 reasons 49ers pulled off win over Cowboys in Wild Card

Football Outsiders ranks the Packers’ run defense 29th in the league with a DVOA metric of 0.7 percent, so it’s not just an anomaly in the yards-per-carry department. San Francisco can take advantage of Green Bay’s run defense, and Samuel should play a vital role in making that happen.

If he does, and at least based on the initial success seen in the playoffs two seasons ago, Samuel and the 49ers could very well be advancing into the NFC Championship game with a win over the Packers.

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