SANTA CLARA – Deebo Samuel is close to celebrity status after he exploded on the scene Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams.
But if he ever gets out of line, the 49ers wide receiver always has his mother and former teammate Emmanuel Sanders on hand to bring him back to reality.
Samuel had a total of 133 yards in the 31–10 win against the Rams, caught five passes for 97 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo, and moved to the backfield to run five times for 36 yards. He’s unique in that there’s no real comparison to his skill set in the NFL, and with 54 catches for 979 yards in nine games, he’s moving into statistical territory that only Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens have scored for the 49ers. as received.
At 25, Samuel insisted on Thursday that he would not fall into the trap of stardom.
“That’s not going to change,” said Samuel as the 49ers (4-5) continued preparations to tour the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7) on Sunday. “You play well and a lot of people start reaching out, but you can’t fill in all of that. You come here, work every day and do what you have been doing consistently.”
Samuel remains grounded through daily interactions with his stepmother, Precious Martin. The two speak every morning, choosing a quote from a motivational app that Samuel posts on Twitter.
“She said I should start posting this on your social media, just reading the quote every morning for me to go to work,” Samuel said.
Consult your hopes and dreams, not your fears. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Don’t worry about yourself what you tried and failed, but worry about what is still possible for you to do.
— dbo (@19problemz) November 18, 2021
As reported in a GQ Magazine feature last May, Martin took Samuel to his house in ninth grade when his biological mother, Felicia Winn, had “entered street life.” Samuel has a relationship with both of them and both of them are also friends of each other. Samuel told the story that his youth involved losing a friend in a shooting when he was 11 years old and another cousin who was shot last year.
With Martin’s help, Samuel entered college in South Carolina and was eventually a second-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2019. It was then that Sanders, conceding seven games in the season from Denver, took effect.
In talking about Samuel’s ascension this season, coach Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and tight end George Kittel all cited Sanders’ influence.
“He really looked a true pro and not only how much preparation he did, but how he attacked practice every day,” Shanahan said. “Emmanuel only knew one way out. He went as hard as he could all the time and if he couldn’t, you had to save him from himself. And I think it was really great for Dibo to see that.” ”
“I think Deebo learned a lot from him. I learned a lot from him,” Kittel said. “I think if you didn’t learn from him, your head was under a rock because he is a hell of a football player who Heals everything.”
Sanders, who has 30 receptions for 505 yards and four touchdowns for the Buffalo Bills at age 34, was quick to call Samuel after his big game on Monday night.
“He was like, ‘Hey, man, you’ve become the man I knew you were going to be,'” Samuel said. “We go back and forth, talk not only about football, but life, connect in the off-season, take trips, and just have regular conversations.”
Samuel noted how Sanders arrived an hour before the scheduled meetings at 7:30 a.m. to get ready. He observed and learned how Sanders was “proceeding in his playbook, the energy he brought in, and the way he put himself into practice.”
Sanders was also a confidant last season when in 2020 with Samuel battling injuries, he worked with Sanders after the season at Denver, but relied heavily on Martin.
“Things like this I lean toward my mother,” Samuel said. “You get into that dark place. Football has taken over, so you go to someone who is really close to you, where you can talk about anything.”
Samuel said last week that he doesn’t study other wide receivers, which is understandable because there are none with his skill set. At a compact 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, Samuel isn’t a prototype lean outside the receiver.
Jacksonville coach Urban Mayer compared his style to that of Percy Harvin, a former Vikings first-round pick whom he coached in Florida, who was a Rookie of the Year in 2009 and in 2011, receiving 967 yards and running 345. were supposed. Samuel has already surpassed Harwin’s total that year and time will tell whether his run chances will increase depending on the Rams’ game.
“Dibo is one of the most natural players I’ve been around. He’s very smart. He’s very perceptive. I think he’s extremely socially aware. He has an idea of what everyone is like. And things are not that hard for him,” Shanahan said. “I think what Deebo has done better is sometimes when you have a tendency to not make things difficult, you can always do every little thing. do not pass through. And I think he did a better job of going through the little things so he could be closer to perfect.
While Samuel has assumed Sanders’ role as a leader in the wide receiver room, it has more to do with action than words.
“I personally, I’m not the rah-rah guy, bothering the team,” Samuel said. “How I show leadership is that I go out there and play every day. I’m not the kind of guy who would call anyone out. We have some guys who do, but that’s not me.”