garcon:-deebo-samuel-can-be-top-five-receiver-in-nfl

Garcon: Deebo Samuel can be top-five receiver in NFL

Deebo Samuel starred yet again for the 49ers on Monday night

Deebo Samuel starred yet again for the 49ers on Monday night

Deebo Samuel is well on his way towards being recognised as a top-five receiver in the NFL, believes former San Francisco 49ers wideout Pierre Garcon. 

Much of the chatter entering Monday night had surrounded Odell Beckham Jr’s debut for a Los Angeles Rams offense already headed up by the league’s receiving leader Cooper Kupp, only to veer towards Samuel as he ran riot while guiding the San Francisco 49ers to a resounding 31-10 victory over their divisional rivals.

The 2019 second-round pick earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his troubles as he posted 133 total yards from scrimmage, including 97 receiving and 36 rushing, along with two touchdowns, the second of which being a 40-yard catch-and-run to the house.

“Deebo is doing a great job, he’s coming into his own,” Garcon told Sky Sports. “We always knew he was a good player, tough player, he plays running back too as well so he does everything for the team and he’s definitely being a leader and showing it to the whole of the NFL. I love what he’s doing, I love how he plays and Kyle Shanahan loves to use him.

“He’s definitely a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan, they love guys that run after the catch and Deebo is hard to take down, when he’s running with the ball after he makes the catch he becomes a running back so he’s definitely the perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan.”

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel scores his second touchdown of the game on a 40-yard catch and run

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San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel scores his second touchdown of the game on a 40-yard catch and run

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel scores his second touchdown of the game on a 40-yard catch and run

Samuel enters Week 11 second only to Kupp (85 catches, 1,141 yards, 10 touchdowns) with 54 catches for 979 yards and five scores so far this season. His league-high 517 yards after the catch are, meanwhile, the most by any player through nine games since Percy Harvin in 2012, and more than the 391 total receiving yards he recorded during an injury-hit 2020 campaign.

Since entering the league he has become a, if not the, chief implementer of the pre-snap-motion-heavy, ‘look this way while we run that way!’, window-dressing Shanahan offense that thrives on jet-sweeps, disguised formations and dragging defenses left to right with do-it-all weapons. If not already there, he is striding towards consideration as one of the league’s upper echelon players in his position.

“Right now people are not going to give him enough credit yet because he hasn’t done enough and the team hasn’t won enough but it’s coming,” added Garcon. “He has the potential to be one of the top five receivers in the league.”

He runs polished routes, he lines up in the backfield, he makes men miss with some ease in the open field, he blocks at the line of scrimmage. He may not fit the mould of a supposed conventional No 1 receiver, but his production has made him just as valuable as one to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The best of the action from the clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 of the NFL

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The best of the action from the clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 of the NFL

The best of the action from the clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 of the NFL

Garoppolo, perhaps more than anybody, is counting on the 49ers’ star weapon to maintain his form over the coming weeks as he seeks to prove he is worthy of retaining his starting job under center heading into 2022.

The jury seemingly remains out, and with rookie Trey Lance lurking behind-the-scenes the San Francisco brass find themselves with a decision to make come this offseason.

“It’s always a mixture,” said Garcon. “They know Jimmy has a lot of potential, they know who he is, but things have happened with injuries and the team not winning. When you are part of a team that’s not winning or one with a lot of injuries it’s like ‘maybe this isn’t fit for you’, but Jimmy G is a great quarterback, a great player, a great person.

“He was like eight-for-eight for the first half of the game [against the Rams] and just kept going and he was protecting the ball, he wasn’t throwing an interception. That’s Jimmy G. It’s just unfortunate situations in football that you can’t control all of them.

“Right now we’re in that deciding phase, that second half of the season will give us a clear picture of what San Francisco do, but they always want to play with a veteran because of the experience they have.

“Jimmy G has a lot of experience in this league and nothing is new or a shock to him, whereas with Trey it’s like ‘you have experience, but you haven’t had enough to take this organisation by yourself’.”

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was coming under pressure after the team's poor start to the season

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was coming under pressure after the team’s poor start to the season

Monday’s victory was the 49ers’ fifth straight over the Rams, while posing as just their second in the last seven games amid a stuttering first half of the season.

Between a toothless defeat to the Indianapolis Colts and a Week Nine loss to the Colt McCoy-led Arizona Cardinals, who were subsequently dismantled by PJ Walker and the Carolina Panthers last weekend, even a footballing mind as envied and admired as that of Shanahan has faced scrutiny. Though for all the NFL has come to be known for, should we really be surprised?

“When you lose in the NFL you’re kind of always under pressure because they hired you to win games and not make excuses,” said Garcon. “All fanbases, especially the 49ers’ faithful, love winning and have a history of winning so if you’re not winning it’s easier to say ‘hey it’s time for you to get out of here’.”

Garcon spent time with Shanahan during his spell as Washington defensive coordinator, before joining him in San Francisco where he managed 64 catches for 786 yards and one touchdown as injuries limited him to just 16 games across 2017 and 2018. He can vouch for, when it is on song, one of the most innovative schemes in the nation.

“It’s a fun offense to play in,” he said. “His plays are designed to take the play to the house, running plays, play-action, all of those things are designed for big plays, he knows where to attack defenses, he watches a lot of film, he comes up with a lot of creativity to get the ball to the guys in space and that’s what we love as offensive players, to be able to have the ball in our hand and the opportunity to make more on the play.”

The 49ers (4-5) continue their season on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

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