But of the four, the one who was with him the longest, and throughout his career since his arrival to the league in 2019, was Jimmy Garoppolo — who is now on his way out via free agency.
Speaking with USA Today in Glendale, Arizona on Wednesday, February 8, the 2021 All-Pro wide receiver finally spoke out about the thought of walking into a 49ers locker room next season and noticing that Garoppolo’s placard and locker will not longer be there.
“Being around Jimmy for four years and being around the league for the last four years, you see a lot,” Samuel shared via Cydney Henderson. “People come in, people leave, people get cut. Not only just Jimmy, we have a few free agents on our team, which no team is going to look exactly the same. But losing Jimmy is pretty big.”
Samuel had Most Success With Garoppolo
Samuel and Garoppolo managed to have some celebrated moments together over the duration of four seasons.
It was Garoppolo who threw Samuel his first career touchdown reception on September 15, 2019. Samuel’s first career 100-yard game was with Garoppolo behind center on November 11, 2019. But after that came the run to Super Bowl 54, then a run to the NFC title game two seasons later.
But this past season was the first time in Samuel’s career he went on a playoff run with a different quarterback handling the reins, as Brock Purdy helped keep the offense going until his elbow injury in the 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Samuel also sounded off on the NFC title game loss.
“It hurts losing that game, but it didn’t hurt as bad as it should, if that makes sense,” Samuel said. “What were you supposed to do in a moment like that? We didn’t want our season to end that way. If anything, we wanted to put up a fight instead of not having a chance.”
New QB Competition Awaits Samuel & the 49er WRs
Now that Garoppolo is more than likely going to be wearing a new uniform as he hits free agency, Samuel and the 49ers now face a training camp where a new QB competition will take place between the late season surprise Purdy and the 2021 first rounder Trey Lance.
The latter QB was supposed to have the full reins of the signal-caller spot before being lost for the entire season with a broken ankle in Week 2. Now, the incoming third-year QB will be involved in a highly-scrutinized QB battle once the 49ers return for the 2023 season. Samuel has already seen what both can do in live situations, but shared one thing they had in common.
“What makes Trey so special is…he can use his feet,” Samuel said. “He is kind of that dual-threat quarterback. He can put that fear in you running. What makes Purdy so special is that he’s so decisive. He’s poised, and he’s not afraid to mess up. Purdy can move around a little bit too.”
As for his thoughts on the upcoming battle, Samuel added: “It’s going to be a competitive match, and the coach (Kyle Shanahan) is going to make the best decision for the team.”