Deebo Samuel has found his “why.”
In the 2021 season, the third-year receiver has set multiple NFL records, was voted to his first Pro Bowl, but most importantly has become a father. Samuel is already a dedicated parent, telling stories of his children to those close to him, including Kyle Shanahan.
Towards the beginning of practice, Samuel is often seen chatting up with his head coach while the special teams unit is on the field. Shanahan shared that the topics range from the wideout’s health to the team’s next opponent, and now his son.
“He has a little boy, I think he’s three weeks old and he’s already holding his bottle by himself,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “So he is just convinced that he is going to be a top pick in the draft. He’s very proud.”
Samuel is not your typical wideout for many reasons, notably because of his skill set and his size. At the end of the 2020 season, the six-foot-tall, 215-pound receiver was challenged to come into training camp healthier, and to take care of his body so he could withstand the physical toll his body takes through the entire season.
The South Carolina product took the task seriously. After only appearing in seven games in 2020, Samuel took his third year by storm playing in all but one contest hauling in 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six receiving touchdowns.
“Deebo is always going to be big and solid,” Shanahan said. “The way he plays the game, it’s harder to practice all week and that’s when you have to be careful, when you’re too sore to practice.
“When you’re naturally like him, you’re going to put on some weight. And it’s tough to play receiver when you’re like that."
Samuel has also been heavily involved in the 49ers run game recording 59 carries for 365 yards and eight rushing scores. On Sunday he added a passing touchdown to his resume.
What has been most important to the head coach is that Samuel has been able to remain healthy through the grind of the season. What the multi-talented receiver can do for Shanahan’s offensive scheme becomes more important as the season progresses and that is the most difficult time to stay healthy.
“Mainly he has been awesome since the offseason to this season,” Shanahan said. “Watching his weight and how he eats, how he practices, everything. He’s kept it way under control and I think it has helped him stay healthier and brought him more success.”
The 49ers will need everything they can get from Samuel on Sunday when they face the Cowboys in Super Wildcard Weekend.