There are non-quarterback players who have had a tremendous impact on their teams in the NFL this season.
- Cooper Kupp caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Los Angeles Rams.
- For the Indianapolis Colts, Jonathan Taylor touched the ball 372 times, totaling 2,171 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns.
- Najee Harris is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ leading rusher with 307 carries for 1,200, but the rookie is also their second-best pass catcher. He had 74 receptions on the season, trailing only the Steelers’ top wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, and his 110 receptions.
Deebo Samuel isn’t being asked to carry the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive load in the same way that the aforementioned offensive workhorses are. His 136 total touches are fewer than Kupp’s receiving total. Yet it’s what Samuel does with those touches that caused the 49ers to tear up in the second half of the season and made them a legitimate threat in the NFC playoffs.
Think of Samuel as Ty Montgomery with rockets in his shoes. At Stanford, Montgomery was an excellent wide receiver, but he was so athletic that he was used in the backfield as well. He carried the ball 23 times in his senior year. The Green Bay Packers drafted him, and in his second season they lost so many running backs to injuries that they used Montgomery at that position not as a wrinkle for their offense but as a necessity because they had no one else.
That season, Montgomery carried the ball 77 times for 457 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught 44 passes for 348 yards during the regular season. He was also a key contributor in the playoffs, when the Packers advanced to the NFC Championship Game. Montgomery currently plays for the New Orleans Saints and hasn’t had such a productive season since.
Or could it be a new Slash, reminiscent of when Kordell Stewart mixed some QB/WR and whatever else the Steelers needed at any given time? I mustit’s like a newcenturieswhiplash like he is legitimately playing two positions.
Samuel carried the ball 59 times for the 49ers this season and is their leader in rushing touchdowns (8).. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and if he seems to get a first down every time the 49ers give him the ball, it’s because of those 59 carries, 21 of them ending on first downs.
It can be so jarring to watch Samuel be so successful in the backfield that you might forget that he might actually be the best wide receiver in the NFL. He caught 77 passes, which is less than half Kupp’s total, and still totaled 1,405 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Samuel averaged a whopping 18.2 receiving yards and leds everything wide receivers in average yards after receiving (10.4) and league-wide in yards after contact (387).
Last Sunday, Samuel saved the 49ers season. They had to beat the Los Angeles Rams to advance to the playoffs and were down 17-3 at halftime. Samuel ran for a 16-yard touchdown over the Niners‘ opening drive in the third quarter, and then on his next drive he threw a 24-yard touchdown pass, because why not throw your first NFL touchdown pass in the biggest game of the season?
In the fourth quarter, after the two-minute warning, the 49ers had a 0.4 percent chance of victory, the lowest.ever recorded by a winning team as Next Gen Stats started tracking that in 2016. When the 49ers had the ball at their own 26-yard line with 50 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, era of samuel 43 yard catch that got them into Los Angeles 20 yard line. The Niners tied the game two plays later. with a touchdown.
That’s the kind of game that can cause sleepless nights for Cowboys defensive coaches. They have the second best defense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders, but the Rams have the fifth, and Samuel destroyed them in the most important moments of the match.
Samuel doesn’t have the full statistical output of Kupp, and definitely not Taylor in the running game, but that’s what makes his 2021 season so special. Samuel and the 49ers used his athleticism and ability to break tackles 136 times this season to try to break up games. A great passer can make a defense nervous and uncomfortable on the field, but a game…breaker like Samuel who can score from anywhere at any time. HWe can terrorize a defense.
There is no one like him in the NFL, and for any team that faces the 49ers in the playoffs, they have to find a way to limit their impact, or else this game …breaker could break his season.