49ers roster: 5 players who must step up most after bye week

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel

Not quite unlike George Kittle, wide receiver Deebo Samuel is under less pressure to perform in the wake of the Christian McCaffrey trade and in light of fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk actually leading the 49ers in receptions and receiving yards over the first eight weeks.

Also not quite unlike Kittle, Samuel’s 2022 numbers have been good, just not All-Pro kind of good.

And that’s fine. However, when looking at the kind of contract Samuel wanted to command after last year’s stellar campaign that netted 1,770 all-purpose yards.

So far through 2022, including the Week 8 game missed because of a hamstring injury, Samuel has just 525 all-purpose yards, and it’s looking as if he’ll fall well short of the admittedly lofty stats he achieved a season ago.

Forget about all that, however. What the 49ers will need from Samuel is also like Kittle, perhaps a bit more frequently. The Niners will want Samuel to take advantage of McCaffrey’s presence and Aiyuk’s ascent, turning into that game-changing player when the moment is the biggest.

San Francisco will likely have a few of those opportunities down the stretch and into the playoffs, too.