49ers All-Timer Calls Out Kyle Shanahan For Deebo Samuel Injury

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Deebo Samuel holding his knee during the San Francisco 49ers win over the Tampa Bay Bucaneers.

Kyle Shanahan is a very good NFL coach. His offensive game has been the talk of the NFL for years, with the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins both opting to sign away his assistants in order to install a similar scheme to that run by the San Francisco 49ers, and based on early head coach watch lists, it would appear that trend could continue in 2023 if  DeMeco Ryans is snatched up to lead another team.

Still, even if Shanahan is lauded by fans and desired by other teams doesn’t mean the offensive playcaller is unflappable, with one of San Francisco’s all-time great players, Jerry Rice, taking to Instagram to beg the team’s current coach to change up his playing style ever-so-slightly in order to keep his non-running backs safe after watching Deebo Samuel, the team’s star wide receiver, suffer a sprained left ankle and MCL injury in Week 14.

“Please s(Kyle Shanahan) top running our skill players up the middle,” Rice wrote. “Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo, now Deebo Samuel all hurt!!”

On paper, Rice’s comments are pretty convincing; Lance, Garoppolo, and now Samuel are all hurt, and all three were hurt running in the middle of the field and could have remained healthy to this day had they not been put in such a situation. Other members of the 49ers’ Hall of Fame, however, would suggest otherwise.

Steve Young Dismissed ‘Goofball’ Questions On Shanahan’s Offense

Though Steve Young hasn’t commented on Samuel’s injury specifically, he did have plenty to say when Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury on a run between the tackles against the Seahawks on the KNBR 680’s “Tolbert & Copes” show.

“Running him … was going to be in the cards,” Young explained h/t NBC Sports Bay Area. “And so I worry that Trey — there’s guys that can run because they understand how to get down and get out of trouble, and there’s guys that don’t. We believed that he was that guy. And I believe that they believed that Trey could do that … a quarterback run for Trey Lance? That’s part of the deal, isn’t it?”

“My point is maybe going forward when Trey gets back on the field, now we realize it might not be the thing that really he’s comfortable doing because we’re finding this out … But isn’t that part of the deal we made with Trey is that we believed he was a guy that could do that?”

Is Young correct? Are some players just not built to run with power between the tackles? Would Lance and, by extension Samuel, be better utilized as more finesse rushers if Shanahan opts to run from the backfield? With Samuel expected to return in roughly three weeks, fans will be very interested to find out if his usage changes at all.

This San Francisco 49ers WR Could Help To Replace Deebo Samuel

If the 49ers can’t count on Samuel returning until Week 18 at the earliest, how will San Francisco replace his spot in the offense? One reporter asked if Ray-Ray McCloud, the team’s free agent returner signed to a two-year, $4 million contract back in March, could be the man who replaces the All-Pro receiver, as transcribed by 49ers Webzone.

“Yeah, you can use them similarly,” Shanahan said. “They’re definitely different bodies, I think that’s pretty obvious, but don’t tell Ray-Ray that. He gets extremely offended. If you put Deebo in any run and you tell him that he can only do these, but not that one, you’re going to have to prepare or make time for an hour meeting with him later, because he’s going to convince you otherwise. And that’s why he has been such a good football player his whole career. You hear about how he was in high school and college and Ray-Ray is a bulldog out there and he doesn’t think about his size.”

Though McCloud hasn’t been a featured part of the 49ers’ offense so far this season, catching 12 balls on 19 targets for 185 yards and a touchdown plus three more carries for seven yards, who knows, maybe the former sixth-round pick out of Clemson will run with the opportunity and close out the season with the best receiving numbers of his career? Just 92 yards away from his career-highest receiving total with four games left to go, Samuel’s loss could be McLeod’s gain.

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