49ers need more out of Deebo Samuel in 2nd half of season

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The 49ers have received solid production from Deebo Samuel over the first eight games of 2022, but he needs to put together an excellent second half.

It won’t take long to find that portion of the San Francisco 49ers fanbase that’ll be awfully critical of All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel after he was forced to miss the Niners’ Week 7 game because of a hamstring injury.

Or, more notably, in the wake of Samuel’s offseason full of drama and speculation, driven by trade requests and an ultimately sizable new contract that brought the awkward stalemate to a close in time for training camp.

With all that in the rearview mirror, one might think Samuel could focus on helping San Francisco get into the playoffs again, just as he did during the team’s second-half push in 2021. And that’s probably what he’s planning to do.

Except now, he has to understand some of those fans are going to be frustrated that he hasn’t quite had the All-Pro kind of season again in 2022, at least not to date.

Deebo Samuel has been good for 49ers so far, not great

In fairness to Samuel, the entirety of the Niners offense has been wholly inconsistent over the first half of the year, heading into the Week 9 bye ranked 19th in scoring.

For an offense that boasts playmakers like Samuel and All-Pro tight end George Kittle, it’s something of a strange revelation to see that ranking.

Speaking of Samuel, it might surprise some that he doesn’t lead San Francisco in the typical receiving stats to date. No, that accolade goes to fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk, whose 38 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns all sit atop the 49ers leaderboard.

Samuel, meanwhile, has 387 receiving yards on 32 catches with two touchdowns. Although he can tack on 138 more rushing yards with another touchdown on the ground, too.

Still, the 525 total yards from scrimmage don’t come close to matching the split he would have needed to shadow the 1,770 all-purpose yards from last season’s All-Pro campaign.

Instead, Samuel is poised to net 1,116 all-purpose yards in 2022. Not bad, but those figures certainly aren’t exemplary.

49ers need Deebo Samuel to be an X-factor in 2nd half of season

Again, the Niners offense has plenty of star power now, especially after the blockbuster addition of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey just before this year’s NFL trade deadline.

Even if San Francisco gets merely average quarterbacking from Jimmy Garoppolo, the combination of McCaffrey and Samuel should make head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense that much more dynamic.

Receivers who rush and rushers who receive, that sort of thing.

It’s still not going to be uncommon for defenses to crowd the box to both help mitigate McCaffrey’s threat and force Garoppolo to throw, meaning receiving targets like Samuel will have to come through with big-time plays in big-time moments.

Samuel doesn’t even have to put up lofty numbers, rather he can be just as effective serving as a legitimate decoy for other top weapons like Kittle and Aiyuk.

In that way, Samuel can make a massive impact, and that’ll likely be what plays out over the second half of the season even if the stats suggest otherwise.

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