YAC monster Deebo Samuel not 'awful' in return to form during 49ers' Thursday night win

Having piled up some more trademark yards after the catch, Deebo Samuel laid on the Levi’s Stadium ground with medical staff gathered around him.

A few moments later, he was smiling and on his way to the medical tent under his own power.

Seven plays after that, Samuel was back on the field, hauling in a highlight-reel touchdown to put the finishing touches on the San Francisco 49ers’ 30-12 win over the New York Giants.

“He has all the things you would want in a receiver,” Niners running back Christian McCaffrey said of Samuel, who finished the night with six receptions for 129 yards and the aforementioned score. “He’s fast, physical, can catch the ball, but I think it’s the stuff he does when the ball is in his hands just being able to just refuse to go down. It’s so fun to watch. Anytime he gets the ball, it’s important you better continue to try to go find a block because you don’t know what tackle he’s going to break or how many.”

“Awful” by his own account last season, this was the Samuel who delighted San Francisco fans in an All-Pro 2021 campaign and was a nightmare for defenses to contend with. Thus, he smiled in agreement that he’s hardly awful after Thursday night.

“I definitely agree [I’m not awful],” he said. “I’m in better shape, being able to sustain drives and be out there as long as I can without a sub.”

At least on this evening, Samuel has bounced back to his prior dynamic, tackle-breaking, big-play-making form. He had four catches of 18 or more yards on the evening, and many of them were of the jaw-dropping variety when it came to his acceleration and tackle-shaking ability.

Samuel tallied his first 100-yard game since Week 4 of last season, but his YAC numbers were hardly new — though still extraordinary. For a 49ers offense that gained 215 of Brock Purdy’s 310 passing yards after the catch, Samuel led the way with 81 YAC, per Next Gen Stats. Samuel’s 9.8 YAC per reception for his career leads NFL wide receivers.

“I try to get every yard possible as far as moving the chains and stuff,” Samuel said. “It’s just my mindset, I’m not going to just fall on the ground and allow one person to bring me down.”

Related Links

  • Week 3 NFL picks: Cowboys, Dolphins and Ravens hit 3-0; Eagles top Bucs in lone battle of undefeateds
  • 2023 NFL season, Week 3: What We Learned from 49ers' win over Giants on Thursday night
  • Niners WR Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder) inactive vs. Giants

With fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk inactive due to a shoulder injury, Samuel needed to step up, and it appeared that was in the Niners’ game plan as he was targeted five times on the opening drive. However, he caught just one ball. It was emblematic of a somewhat sluggish offensive start.

“Deebo. I think that’s a big part of it,” Niners tight end George Kittle told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche after the game about what changed in the second half. “He made some huge plays for us.”

SF @49ers TE George Kittle had a big night in helping his team improve to 3-0 with a win over the Giants. Postgame, he talked about that, Deebo Samuel and Brock Purdue’s toughness. pic.twitter.com/4h8hG1SrI5

Samuel did have the biggest play of the first half, fighting through the defense for a 30-yard gain that led to a Purdy TD toss to Ronnie Bell.

San Francisco held a 17-6 lead at the half, but New York showed some life and cut it to 17-12 in the third.

The 49ers began to find a rhythm, though, and it started with a vintage Samuel 40-yard reception in which he broke four tackles. San Francisco upped its lead to 20-12 on that drive and eventually sealed the win on Samuel’s first TD grab of the season.

It was set up by his 19-yard catch that ended with him down on the field.

“I actually fell on the ball,” Samuel said. “I thought it was my ribs and I think the wind got knocked out of me. After going into the tent and everything checked out fine.”

Not long after, Samuel put the exclamation point on the 49ers’ win with his 27-yard touchdown grab.

His ribs are fine, and so too is his game.

Source: Read Full Article