49ers’ Deebo Samuel Criticizes James Bradberry Ahead of Big Super Bowl Penalty

Hours after Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers referred to Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry as “trash,” Bradberry was called for a penalty that led to a crucial first down, ultimately allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to run out the clock and kick a game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl.

Appearing on the game-day episode of FanDuel’s “I Am Athlete” podcast, Samuel seemed to minimize the 2022 accomplishments of Bradberry, a second-team All-Pro, suggesting that it was the Eagles’ pass rush that wallpapered over less-than-elite coverage in the secondary, which included Darius Slay, a Pro Bowler.

“On the back end,” Samuel said to a stunned panel that included past NFL greats LeSean McCoy, Adam “Pacman” Jones and Brandon Marshall. “The [defensive line] makes both of them All-Pro. Besides Slay. I respect Slay.”

“What about Bradberry?” McCoy asked.

“Trash,” Samuel replied.

James Bradberry Took Responsibility for His Holding JuJu Smith-Schuster

Speaking with reporters after the game, Bradberry was open about the low-light of his 20-game Eagles career, taking responsibility for the play. With the score tied at 35-35 and 1:54 left to go in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had third-and-8 at the Eagles’ 16-yard-line. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes overthrew wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was being covered on the play by Bradberry.

“It was a holding. I tugged his jersey,” Bradberry said. “Third-and-8; we were in a man coverage, JuJu motion out to a bunch, they ran a pivot and wheel. I was trying to get some momentum and go back with the wheel. Of course, I pulled on his jersey, and [the official] called it.”

A reporter asked for Bradberry’s thoughts on the call.

“Pulled the jersey,” Bradberry said. “[The official] called holding. I was hoping they would let it ride. But it was holding.”

Unfortunately for Eagles fans, the team already had little margin for error given the Chiefs’ field position. Then the call against Bradberry virtually eliminated Philadelphia’s opportunity to regain possession. The penalty gave the Chiefs a first down at the Eagles’ 11-yard line. A 9-yard run by Jerrick McKinnon put the ball at the 2 and gave the Chiefs a chance to use up almost a minute and a half on the clock. With 8 seconds left, Harrison Butker kicked an easy field goal.

The Eagles Have Been Linked to a San Francisco 49ers CB If James Bradberry Leaves

The Eagles have been linked to one of the 49ers’ impending free agent cornerbacks if they are unable to come to a deal with Bradberry, who will become an unrestricted free agent in March: Emmanuel Moseley.

Selecting “one defensive free agent each NFL team should pursue in the 2023 offseason,” Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus named “E-Man” as a potential replacement for Bradberry should he leave in free agency.

If the Eagles don’t bring cornerback James Bradberry back in 2023, they could go younger at the position here with Darius Slay also entering his age-32 season in 2023, the last year of his current contract. Philadelphia’s defense could look very different next season with a ton of key contributors set to hit free agency.

Moseley had a strong start to the 2022 season, picking up where he left off down the stretch in 2021, before going down with a season-ending injury late in Week 5. Since Week 9 of 2021, Moseley’s 76.0 coverage grade ranks tied for 20th among cornerbacks with at least 200 snaps, and his 16.7% forced incompletion rate is tied for 18th while his 1.4% rate of explosive receptions allowed on targets into his coverage ranks ninth.

One issue with mocking free agents to the Eagles is the team’s current vagueness at defensive coordinator, with Jonathan Gannon a finalist for the Arizona Cardinals’ head coaching job. Still, if Gannon sticks around but Bradberry doesn’t, signing Mosley as a press zone corner opposite Slay would be an under-the-radar addition, especially since the 49ers might already have an on-roster replacement in place in Deommodore Lenoir, who impressed over the final 15 games of the 2022 season.

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