49ers

49ers' Deebo Samuel has played with physical mentality his entire life

49ers' Deebo Samuel has played with physical mentality his entire life

SANTA CLARA -- Commentators and fans alike have said Deebo Samuel runs angry with the ball in his hands, but for the 49ers rookie wide receiver, it’s the only way he knows how to play. 

When Samuel played football in his youth, his father was his coach. His instructions to his son?

“Every time you have the ball in your hands, try to get it into the end zone.”

That mantra has never changed.

“I wouldn’t say angry,” Samuel told NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s just the mentality that I have that one guy isn’t going to bring me down. And that’s always been my mentality since I’ve been playing the game.”  

Samuel’s style of play appears to be similar to that of teammate George Kittle. Neither is afraid to catch the ball across the middle and both will run over a defender once they have the ball in their hands. Samuel has an average of 7.5 yards after the catch while Kittle is not far behind at 6.5 yards. 

“I watch George,” Samuel said. “He kind of has the same mindset. I’ve never seen one guy bring him down so it’s kind of like the mentality I play with." 

Some of Samuel’s bruising ways come from his days as a running back, a position he played until he was a freshman at South Carolina. His versatility has already been utilized several times by coach Kyle Shanahan, with five rushing attempts for 27 yards and a touchdown. 

“I know what it is and know what it takes to be back there and the hits that they take,” Samuel said. “DBs out there, they’re not guys that like the physical stuff. So if they see a receiver trying to bring it to them, you know they want to hit low. Not too many people want that contact.” 

Both Samuel and Kittle have been very productive for the 49ers' offense and reliable targets for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Kittle leads the team with 541 receiving yards while Samuel is second with 339. 

With Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders' availability in doubt for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Samuel knows that he will be asked to step up if necessary. Facing the Seahawks, the rookie caught eight of his 11 targets for 112 yards, making him the most productive receiver on the field. 

Of those three missed targets, there’s one in particular that Samuel would like back. Early in the fourth quarter, Garoppolo targeted Samuel on a slant route across the middle. The ball hit Samuel in the hands, but he wasn't able to hold on as it dangerously deflected up into the air. 

[RELATED: Watch all eight 49ers dropped passes in loss to Seahawks]

By the time Samuel made a second attempt to grab the ball, the safety already was on him and broke up the pass. It would have netted a first down at a minimum, but the drive stalled and San Francisco was forced to punt. 

“I was so worried about just turning it up more,” Samuel said. “I was more focused on that than catching the ball first. You could see the safety coming down and he was not a worry of mine. Just got to make those plays. I just don’t only want to make that catch. I want to catch the ball and do something with it after I catch it. It’s just my mentality.” 

Samuel likely will have a chance to redeem himself Sunday when the 49ers face division rival Arizona. 

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Is your quarterback elite? Well, if you're a fan of the 49ers then no -- at least according to Chris Simms.

The NBC Sports football analyst couldn't confidently put Jimmy Garoppolo in the elite category, but still had plenty of praise toward him, especially knowing he plans on leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

"I think there's some quarterbacks in football right now: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes -- they kind of stand alone," Simms said.

After that handful of quarterbacks, Simms highlights a group of "good," a squad that he considers Jimmy G to be a part of. Plus, Garoppolo has a lot of "good" surrounding him.

The elite talents of tight end George Kittle are something that shouldn't be argued -- unless you're not sure if he's a decent blocker or not. Ahem, Doug Gottlieb.

"That's all you need to win a Super Bowl," Simms added.

The consensus around Jimmy G's eliteness is that he's not elite, but he's not bad, but he's good enough.

[RELATED: NFC offensive consultant on Jimmy G's eliteness

Got all of that?

His throwing abilities have been talked about, but once again the word "elite" was not mentioned.

49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

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49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

A lot of times for athletes, it's not up to them whether or not they want to retire -- it's up to their body. For 49ers tackle Joe Staley, it's really no different.

"I like to think that I can continue to play football for as long as they'll have me," Staley said in an interview with 95.7 The Game on Thursday. "And that's my mindset. I've never thought about when an end is going to be."

The 35-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with San Francisco in June which ultimately means he could spend the entirety of his NFL career as a member of the 49ers. And while that seems like a long time, he's still soaking up the everyday grind of his job even with the setbacks he's faced this season.

"The challenges of this season have been different than seasons past," he said. "I love the adverse situations and you kind of learn a lot about yourself -- how you respond and challenge yourself daily with different goals ... "

Staley sustained a fractured left fibula earlier in the season during the Week 2 matchup against the Bengals and with a smile tried to remain positive but admitted: "it sucks." He was emotional after the injury but said that had a lot to do with how special the team was and the guys he was surrounded by.

Still, you can't fake the passion the six-time Pro Bowler brings to the 49ers and it appears you would have to pry the game away from his hands if you anticipate him hanging up his cleats any time soon.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G can enter record books in 49ers-Falcons]

"That love for the game is still there, burning," Staley said.

He finished the statement saying he doesn't have an honest answer as to just how much football is left in his body, but it's not something he's concentrating on at the moment.