After all, before Samuel scored to make it a 23-7, he had been waiting for his turn to get in the endzone. The 49ers had driven into Dallas territory four times at that point and had only come away with one touchdown through running back Elijah Mitchell capping off a stellar opening drive.
So when Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was picked off by K’Waun Williams at the Cowboys’ 26-yard line, Deebo saw his chance. The former South Carolina Gamecock receiver told coach Kyle Shanahan and his teammates as much.
As Samuel takes the field, he turns and screams to get Shanahan’s attention to say, “let’s go.” Then the NFL cameras capture Samuel telling his teammates that they need “put the ball in the box.” Considering he new the playcall was a zone handoff to the short side of the field, Deebo seemed to know what was coming next.
A sharp cutback and 26 yards later, Samuel scored what would end up being the difference-making score for the 49ers.
ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!
Shanahan Reveals What Deebo Also Said
Besides the clips above, 49ers fans also learned that Shanahan absolutely was working off of that moment with Deebo.
The Niners needed to score. Kicking three consecutive field goals in terms of point-scoring wasn’t awful, but it was giving the Cowboys a chance to stay in the game. Per the NFL, Shanahan said that his strategy in that moment got a lot easier once Deebo approached him.
“Deebo’s been a stud all year,” Shanahan said. “As everyone knows, and, right before he went out there, he just mouthed something to me, which I kind of guessed was, ‘Give me the ball.’ When I look at him talking that way, it’s extremely motivating, and he makes it a lot easier to call plays.”
It worked, and Samuel ended up with another key performance for the 49ers. The receiver-running back hybrid put up 110 total yards along with that score.
Packers Coach Looking at Deebo
Any team facing the 49ers the rest of the season has to figure out the Deebo situation. He’s averaging 110.6 yards per game this season and Sunday’s score marked his 15th touchdown of the season, per PFR.
Stopping him will go a long way to stopping the 49ers, and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is well aware of that. When the 49ers visit for the Divisional Round battle on Saturday, Samuel is high up on Green Bay’s list of priorities.
“But Deebo, he’s a dynamic player,” LaFleur said per the Mercury News. “He’s one of the more elite players in this league. They try to find different ways to get him the ball, whether it’s handing it off, reverses, and in the passing game he’s a physical guy.”
But even with planning, Deebo is the type of athlete that can still make things happen due to his versatility. That’s where the “problems” come in for LaFleur and his staff.
“It does present some problems when you aren’t quite sure where he’s going to line up. Is it going to be in the halfback posting, and the halfback is out wide, or vice versa? He’s a guy we have to account for on every play.”