Kyle Shanahan must play crucial role to repair Deebo Samuel relationship

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

If the 49ers truly are at an impasse with Deebo Samuel, Kyle Shanahan has to step in and broker some sort of peace negotiation right away.

It’s anyone’s guess why the San Francisco 49ers have found themselves in a literal standoff with their All-Pro wide receiver, Deebo Samuel, who reportedly doesn’t even want a new contract extension and has instead asked for a trade this offseason.

This sounds shocking, as Samuel has turned into a household name following his three years in the Bay Area and his exemplary 1,770-yard campaign from 2021. Why would he want out if he’s already found himself in a great situation?

Perhaps Samuel’s frustrations stem from his usage as a “wide back,” which has made him surely unique as a player but has also opened up the door for more wear and tear, plus what’ll likely be a shorter NFL career.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan was ultimately responsible for that kind of usage, and he’s also the one individual who can help mend this soured relationship in the biggest way.

We know Kyle Shanahan and Deebo Samuel are close

The relationship Samuel has with his head coach goes beyond just Xs and Os, as the two have developed a friendship beyond the football field.

“[We talk about anything],” Shanahan stated back in January, via 49ers Webzone. “Deebo’s a real easy guy to talk to. He’s not doing much on special teams during [practices], so he usually just comes over, and we chit-chat a little bit. Sometimes it’s about how he’s feeling, about the practice. Sometimes [it’s] about the team we’re playing. Sometimes it’s about his family.”

Samuel also spends plenty of time in Shanahan’s office, too, which has helped foster the relationship.

“Deebo’s an awesome guy to talk to,” Shanahan added. “I’m his coach. I consider him a friend, though, also.”

Players don’t always experience this kind of setting, even those also on the Niners roster. And, as anyone in a work situation can attest, positive relationships go a long way towards bridging the gap of a disagreement.

If it’s not Deebo Samuel’s usage under Kyle Shanahan, what is it?

There are plenty of speculative reasons why Samuel is seeking a trade, and one of those is the way Shanahan used him as a “wide back,” which the head coach suggested would continue when he spoke at the NFL owners meeting earlier this offseason.

If the kind of usage is what’s driving Samuel to ask for a trade, he essentially contradicted himself from statements made earlier.

“Yeah, I’m perfectly fine with it,” Samuel said of his role last January. “Like I stated all year long, I’m down for whatever to help this team win in every aspect.”

Perhaps that was Samuel’s response at the point where San Francisco was still vying for a Super Bowl, and perspectives can always change at any given time.

Yet it doesn’t appear, at least based on these comments, Samuel is upset with how Shanahan uses him.

If that’s the case, though, Shanahan can easily make the call to feature Samuel as more of a wide receiver than a running back.

Can Kyle Shanahan step in and force 49ers to offer Deebo Samuel what he wants?

Shanahan also admitted during the owners meeting he doesn’t involve himself too much in the business aspect of player relationships.

Usually, that’s a good position to be in. It’s a job for general manager John Lynch and chief contracts negotiator Paraag Marathe.

Read More: 4 reasons why 49ers shouldn’t budge on Deebo Samuel trade request

However, Shanahan has plenty of sway over how the roster is construed, which players are priorities and so on. In terms of influence, few in the 49ers’ front office carry as much weight as the head coach.

No one knows for sure how Shanahan would go about doing this, or specifically what he’d say. But if he were to press Lynch and Marathe to meet Samuel’s financial demands, even if the receiver has initially declined the desire to receive an offer, it would surely help.

Money does talk, after all. And the Niners would be wise to spend it here.

For the most part, Shanahan doesn’t involve himself in how that money is spent. To bridge the broken relationship with one of his best players, though, he might have to.

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