Deebo says he's target of death threats, racial remarks on social media


There can be an ugly side to fame and Deebo Samuel is experiencing it first-hand. 

The talented 49ers receiver recorded a message on his Instagram story Friday, sharing how he has been receiving death threats and messages laced with derogatory racial comments from “fans.”

The angst and negativity seems to have originated from Samuel removing any reference to the 49ers from his social media while he waits for a contract extension that he clearly deserves. 

“Hey, for all you fans that’s in the DMs sending death threats and racial stuff, that don’t bother me,” Samuel said in the video. “It don’t. Y’all are the same ones that was just hoorah-ing and ‘Go Deebo’ and now y’all want to send death threats and send all these racial [messages] … all this stuff. It don’t bother me. I’m cool, I’m chillin', I’m happy.” 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time a player has received death threats or messages of racial hatred, and sadly, it will not be the last. While social media has an upside, allowing fans an inside look and contact with their favorite athletes, the accessibility can be taken advantage of, as it has in this case. 

Arguably, the “fans” in Samuel’s DMs are not true 49ers fans. The “wide-back” was largely responsible for San Francisco making an appearance the NFC Championship Game for the second time in three seasons. It seems incomprehensible that an individual could change allegiance so swiftly. 


The proliferation of fantasy football and the legalization of sports gambling has created an entirely different “fan base” that views athletes as commodities that can bring an individual revenue. Still, the bottom line is that no matter where or who it is coming from, these types of comments are wrong, hurtful, and wildly inappropriate. 

Samuel is not the first 49ers player to go public about receiving death threats. In 2012, Kyle Williams fumbled two punt returns in the 49ers’ NFC Championship Game loss to the New York Giants. Fans took to social media to express their outrage and the messages were outright awful. 

Hopefully the individuals who sent the messages are banned from Instagram and punished but people are rarely prosecuted for that type of behavior. If they sent a written letter with the same messages, it would be an entirely different case. It is also impossible to ban someone for very long because of the ease of creating another account. 

RELATED: How contract situations of Deebo, Kyler compare

While Samuel waits to come to terms with the 49ers on a contract extension, this is a reminder that players are people with feelings and families that many of them provide for. The average NFL career span is 3.3 years, which doesn't leave much time to make a living so waiting for a bigger, better contract is not only understandable, it is their right to do so.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast