49ers defensive teammates share what it’s like to go against physical Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk4 min read
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco 49ers got wide receiver Deebo Samuel back on the practice field on Wednesday. It has been over three months since the second-year player suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot after a player-organized workout in Tennessee.
Samuel plays with a lot of physicality, which was evident from his rookie campaign last season. He finished the year with 57 catches for 802 yards and three touchdowns while adding 14 carries for 159 yards and three more scores.
Samuel’s teammates know what an impact the young receiver can make on the team. And I’m not talking about those who play with Samuel on offense. Two 49ers defenders discussed what the former Gamecock brings to the team.
Safety Jimmie Ward was asked how difficult it was to practice last year against a player with Samuel’s type of mentality. He wasn’t just trying to run you over on rushing plays. The receiver didn’t shy away from a big hit while hauling in passes either.
“Just very difficult (to go against) because after the catch, he can also run, and he’s a hard tackle too,” Ward told reporters on Wednesday. “Just his style of play is phenomenal. Deebo is just an outstanding talent.”
Linebacker Fred Warner, one of the team’s rising stars, also praised his offensive teammate.
“I feel like he’s just a running back at receiver,” Warner said. “His mindset his very different. The fact that he was able to do the things that he was doing last year as a rookie, those are the type of dudes that [head coach Kyle Shanahan] is looking for to play receiver. That’s kind of the mindset in that room, is every time you touch the ball, you’re trying to go to the house.
“He’s a very physical runner and blocker. Whenever he comes back, it will be good to have him.”
Shanahan has to be salivating at the prospect of finally pairing Samuel with his other dynamic receiver, Brandon Aiyuk. The rookie showed off his versatility this past weekend against the New York Giants, racking up 101 all-purpose yards that included 70 receiving and 31 rushing yards on eight touches.
“Very physical,” Ward said when asked to describe Aiyuk. “He actually hit my one time in camp when I picked up his fumble. It was a good lick too. I like it. I like that about him. He doesn’t talk much, has very long arms. I don’t know if you all paid attention to that. … Just a very humble young kid. Very talented too, as well.”
We’ll see if Samuel makes it onto the football field this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles. These next few days of practices will determine whether or not that happens.
“He’s healthy, so we just want to see him out there and get back in the swing of playing football,” Shanahan said before practice. “It’s been a while since he has. I know he’s been working hard on his own with football and everything with our trainers and everyone else with the rehab.
“We just need to see him go through three days, and what type of shape he’s in. And if he can protect himself, he’ll be out there.”
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Kyle Shanahan talks injuries, Nick Mullens, Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Nelson, Dee Ford
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Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.
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NFL teams can each have 48 players active on game days. This season, each can promote one or two players from the practice squad up to 90 minutes before kickoff, potentially increasing the active roster up to 55 players. After the game, any elevated player will revert back to the practice squad without having to go through waivers. Teams can do this twice with each player before subjecting him to waivers first.
Among the inactives are tight end George Kittle and pass rusher Dee Ford, who were both ruled out for the game. Kittle is dealing with an MCL sprain and bone bruise,