SANTA CLARA — After a season limited by injuries, Deebo Samuel is set to bounce back having met the challenges set by the 49ers' coaching staff.
Wide receivers coach Wes Welker has been happy with how Samuel returned after the 40-day break before training camp. After suffering a Jones fracture in his foot prior to the 2020 season, the wideout was unable to condition as much as necessary.
The added weight on the Samuel’s frame contributed to multiple issues that kept him off the field for more than half of his sophomore season. Now, with a new approach to his nutrition and fitness, Samuel is set to make an impact on the field.
“He’s looked great,” Welker said. “I think the main thing for him has always been his weight and being 220 or under. And it's been really, really good. When he gets too far over that, is when he starts to have issues.”
Welker explained how much of a challenge it is to get young receivers to understand the focus it takes to succeed in the NFL. Conditioning during the offseason is only part of what the 49ers ask of their receivers.
Making the jump to an NFL offense, especially one as detailed as Kyle Shanahan’s, requires steady mental focus. Welker shared that that is hard to find in rookie after what they experienced in college.
“It’s a process,” Welker said. “In college teams are playing so fast, playing 90, 95 plays and you see guys kind of loafing on film and then suddenly turn in on whenever they do get the ball. “I don’t think they understand in the NFL, every play is full speed and there’s only 60-70 plays and every play is so important.”
Samuel has returned to Santa Clara refocused and ready to take on a bigger role this season. He has continued to be a reliable target for Jimmy Garoppolo while also building chemistry with rookie Trey Lance.
“You can tell he really trained the right way this off season and came back in shape,” Welker said. “He’s in a row as opposed to taking a play off here and there. I’m really pleased with Deebo and the way he’s prepared himself and he’s starting to become a real pro.”