Deebo Samuel has earned fans around the NFL after his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, and one of those is former Cincinnati Bengal Chad Johnson.
Johnson wasn’t afraid to get a little vulgar with his tweet of support for the former South Carolina Gamecock, saying, “Deebo Samuel…… man listen to me, i know my sh*t, that m********ker is [fire.]”
Johnson joined the Bengals as a second-round pick out of Oregon State in the 2001 NFL Draft, where he began a legendary stint with in Ohio with six selections to the Pro Bowl and three first-team All-Pro selections before going on to play with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
What’s interesting about Johnson’s comments on Deebo is that they both ended their rookie season with flashes of serious potential, but neither started a full season as rookies, Johnson playing in just 12 games and totaling 329 yards and Samuel starting 11 games and finishing the 2019 regular season with 802 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
Interesting Rushing Comparison Between Johnson and Samuel
“Ochocinco” was always known as a playmaker, but people don’t associate the former Bengals receiver with rushing skills or after-the-catch elusiveness, while Samuel’s biggest strength is his versatility and slipperiness when he has the ball in his hands.
In Deebo’s rookie season in Santa Clara, California, the 49ers committed to using their receiver as, well, a receiver, but also began to mix in more and more rushing touches over the course of the season due to the effectiveness of Samuel when he’s running jet sweeps or even just taking straight-up hand-offs.
On just 14 attempts, Samuel ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson actually ended up receiving handoffs himself in his prime seasons in the mid-2000s, and ended his career with 24 attempts, 175 yards and zero rushing touchdowns.
When including Deebo’s 102 rushing yards in the 2019 playoff run, he easily eclipses Johnson in his first 18 games as a player, which is unsurprising, but it’s still interesting that Johnson was actually used as a rusher at all during a time in the NFL where jet sweeps and the like were far less common than they are heading into the 2020 season.
Samuel, Other 49ers WRs Working With Jimmy G
The Fourth and Nine’s Akash Anavarathan recently tweeted the news that 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, receiver Kendrick Bourne and other members of the San Francisco offense are switching up their HQ from San Jose, California to Nashville, Tennessee, in an effort to get more of the offense involved in practice.
Tight end George Kittle has been in Nashville since an early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, while running back Jerick McKinnon and Samuel have been working in Houston, Texas.
Garoppolo recently spoke to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows about what kind of progress and chemistry he can make with younger receivers like Samuel and or a rookie like Brandon Aiyuk.
“I like to teach them a route, how I see it, and ask them, ‘How do you see it?’ Because in practice you don’t get that time. Because out here, it’s a unique experience. Guys kind of get to let loose a little bit, too. So it makes things fun.”
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Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.