Lions' C.J. Gardner-Johnson wants to battle Deebo Samuel (will Deebo even play?)

C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Deebo Samuel had an online scrap earlier this season, but it's anyone's guess if that scrap will spill onto the field during the NFC Championship game.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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12-5. 50. 49ers -7. 12-5. 42. 6:30 p.m. ET. Fox. Sunday, Jan. 28. 49ers-Lions opening

C.J. Gardner-Johnson has beef with Deebo Samuel, so that should be a matchup to watch between the 49ers and Lions. Except Deebo might not be healthy.

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the Detroit Lions for the 2024 NFC Championship game this Sunday, and the winner of this penultimate game will advance to Super Bowl LVIII this February.

Like any marquee matchup, there are plenty of notable storylines, including Lions quarterback Jared Goff returning to his hometown area of Northern California to face off against his boyhood team.

And yet there are other storylines, too, including ones that might be a bit more hostile.

Earlier this season, right when the Niners were about to suffer a three-game losing streak, Detroit cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson went after Deebo Samuel in an unprovoked manner on Twitter, mocking the wide receiver amid a mild on-field spat between San Francisco and the Cleveland Browns:

Gardner-Johnson was part of the Philadelphia Eagles team that eliminated the 49ers from last season's NFC Championship game, so there's little question that he took exception to some of the comments Samuel made about Philly in the wake of that contest.

Samuel clapped back not long thereafter:

The two went back and forth a little longer, including Samuel appearing on the Up & Adams Show with Kay Adams and calling out Gardner-Johnson.

That was in response to Gardner-Johnson going on Instagram (h/t @OurSF49ers) and calling out Samuel some more:

"You better hope all that talk you be doing when we see you all, whatever [playoff] round it may be because I can guard you. You can't run routes. You're a running back. You're a running back. I ain't gonna sit here and play with you, little boy. Just because you got a little bag, people give you a little clout, and then you ain't nothing, bro."

That should set up for a nice little storyline on Sunday, right?

Possibly. Perhaps not, though.

Deebo Samuel is 50-50 to play vs. Lions, per Adam Schefter

Samuel exited San Francisco's divisional-round victory over the Green Bay Packers at halftime with a shoulder injury, which was the same injury he also suffered earlier this season.

While it's unclear how related the two injuries are, Samuel didn't return to that game, and his status for the NFC Championship game remains up in the air.

According to a Monday report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing a source, Samuel has a "50-50" shot at playing Sunday versus Detroit:

Earlier, Schefter reported that Samuel had told 49ers personnel that he was "OK," which was a good sign. Yet this latest news isn't exactly promising.

Samuel's injury will certainly be something to monitor, and one can only wonder if Gardner-Johnson will be paying close attention to the development, too.

The Lions and Niners square off in the NFC Championship on Sunday, Jan. 28 at Levi's Stadium.

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