Samuel has been lauded this season for his versatility, his toughness after contact and for creating a spark for the 49er offense especially during their 3-1 charge to even their record at 5-5…even if his head coach compares his strides to a legendary cartoon character.
On the Wednesday edition of the “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks Show” on KNBR 680 AM/104.5 FM, Kyle Shanahan compared Samuel’s strides to a popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon character.
“His power and his stride, we joke with him that he’s got a little Fred Flintstone stride, but it gets going,” Shanahan told the three men.
It’s officially the latest character comparison for a playmaker who got the name “Deebo” from the legendary “Friday” villain portrayed by the late Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr.
So…are Flintstone and Samuel similar? Let’s examine the footwork.
Here’s Mr. Flintstone’s quick feet underneath his car:
And here’s Samuel’s feet, highlighted especially near the 36 second mark of this video done by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn in January 2020:
And in the romp over NFC West rival the Los Angeles Rams seen here.
Samuel’s quick feet has propelled him to a breakout third season, as noted by former 49er Donte Whitner on October 31.
Samuel Comes With a Burst few Have
Shanahan has coached his fair share of dynamite playmakers from Julio Jones, to Devonta Freeman to recently Raheem Mostert who was the 49ers’ top backfield option during their run to the NFC title in 2019.
Yet, few has shown the burst that Samuel brings weekly.
“Some of the runs that he hit in the game, I was showing to the team, and people don’t get the burst that he has,” Shanahan said. “Not right away, but right when the hole is about to close up and he can just get through it.”
Who does compare to Samuel, if there’s anyone? Is it Flintstone?
“I was telling the team that I’ve only had one player like that, and that’s (Raheem Mostert). Raheem can hit those seams when they close, and people think they’ve got him, but then he has this other gear where all of the sudden they don’t have him. Deebo is the most similar to that that I’ve seen,” Shanahan said.
Here’s another example of the burst Shanahan is explaining. On this running play mentioned by @49ers_Film on Twitter, the defensive tackle is the nearest defender on this Samuel handoff and he’s got an angle on him to seal off the open running lane. Samuel’s speed, however, gets his to blow past this defender — who doesn’t lay a finger on him and Samuel gets near the 2-yard line:
And on this TD run, if you watch closely, Samuel zips through four defenders trying to play tag with him.
Samuel has been compared to the iconic “Friday” character who rode around in a bicycle snatching chains and bullying others. His head coach now called him “Fred Flintstone.” But Shanahan gave him one more comparison.
“Deebo is just so unique in how he’s built,” Shanahan said. “He isn’t really built like a receiver, he is built more like a running back. Sometimes I compare him to a fullback when I’m just messing with him.”
More from that interview can be listened to here.