The San Francisco 49ers‘ defense has primarily led the way to the team’s first Super Bowl appearance since 2013, but their offense was also a formidable one this year. The 49ers had the second-best rushing attack behind the Baltimore Ravens, and they have several offensive weapons every defense they play must account for.
Alongside All-Pro tight end George Kittle and veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders, rookie Deebo Samuel has emerged as one of the 49ers’ premiere talents. Samuel was the team’s third-leading receiver this season, and he has established himself as a huge play-maker, as Kyle Shanahan has utilized his speed in the running game, as well.
Samuel’s play-making abilities have also been on full display this postseason; he has 88 yards receiving and 49 yards rushing in two playoff games so far, with the biggest game of his young career coming up in Super Bowl LIV. Samuel has had a solid start to his NFL career, but the talented young wideout had to overcome a few hurdles to get where he is today.
Deebo Samuel College Career: 49ers Draft Standout South Carolina WR
San Francisco took Samuel 36th overall in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He started 11 games his rookie year, and finished the season second on the team with 802 yards receiving. He had three receiving scores to go with three rushing touchdowns.
Samuel went to college at the University of South Carolina, where he played wide receiver for four years. He had an excellent senior season, catching 62 passes for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Samuel also had a great deal of success returning kickoffs. In 41 returns over his last three years at South Carolina, Samuel had four returns for touchdowns. His career with the Gamecocks wasn’t without its trials and tribulations, however.
Deebo Samuel Injury History: Freshman and Junior Year Struggles
Samuel played in just five games as a freshman at South Carolina, as he battled through hamstring injuries the entire season. The hamstring issues weren’t serious, but they did linger. He broke out his sophomore year, though, catching 59 passes in 10 games for 783 yards and a touchdown. He also had six rushing scores as a sophomore, showing flashes of the dynamic player he was this year.
His junior year, however, Samuel broke the fibia in his left leg, missing the bulk of the 2017 season, playing in just three games. It remains his most significant injury to date. He came back strong in 2018, highlighted by a 10-catch, 210 yard, three touchdown performance against Clemson.
Samuel’s size, speed, good hands and ability to juke and shed tacklers have made him one of the NFL’s breakout rookies. If he can continue to stay healthy, his career could be off the charts.