49ers rookie Deebo Samuel ready to respond from mistakes in NFL debut

49ers rookie Deebo Samuel ready to respond from mistakes in NFL debut

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel wasn’t expected to play 88-percent of San Francisco's offensive snaps in 31-17 Week 1 win over the Bucs, but he’s chalked it up as a great learning experience. 

“Honestly I really didn’t know how long I was going to play,” Samuel said. "I just know I was out there and was trying to do the best at my job. I think there’s a lot of things I need to work on as far as being consistent, getting in better shape and being locked in.” 

Every rookie goes through a learning curve, and Samuel made a few notable mistakes in his debut. Just before the half, Samuel caught a short pass from 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but fumbled and cost the team at least three points. 

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Samuel jumped offsides on a play that was likely going to get him the ball. The drive eventually stalled and the 49ers were forced to punt.

Understandably, nerves played a little bit of a role in the rookie's performance. 

“Kind of more anxious than anything,” Samuel said. “You know it was kind of first-game rookie jitters. You hear the play call and kind of figure it’s coming to you and you’re ready to make the play, but rather than being locked in, I was jumping offsides.” 

While coach Kyle Shanahan wants to minimize mistakes, he's been impressed with how Samuel has responded to criticism.

“He’s really as good as anyone I’ve been around right now,” Shanahan said. “As a rookie, we’ll see how it goes, but you can be hard on him. He doesn’t make excuses, he works at it and he definitely takes accountability and doesn’t mind you calling him out in front of the team. It’s important to him and usually responds when you do it.”

Garoppolo also vouched for Samuel’s mettle after making mistakes, specifically the false start. 

“He came back and answered with that two-point conversion,” Garoppolo said. “That’s a tough play, quick catch, get it in there. Yeah, he had a good mindset the whole day in the huddle. 

"You know, he’s still got a long way to go and everything, but he has natural talent. He’s powerful, he can run through defenders as you saw on Sunday. It’s nice having a guy like that. Just when he’s in tight spots, he makes the tough catches. It’s incredible, the guy doesn’t sweat even in Tampa. It’s mind-blowing."

Even as a rookie, Samuel is his toughest critic. He's all ears when coaches speak and greatly wants to improve.

“Me personally, I was hard on myself about it because it’s not something that we do as a group and it’s not something we do as a team,” Samuel said. “You have to take yourself and be accountable for that, but as far as how hard they get on you they just want you to become a better player and I take coaching very well.” 

Shanahan took responsibility for having Samuel in the game for too long and only playing second-year receiver Dante Pettis for two snaps

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“I think he learned what the NFL is like,” Shanahan said. “I think it was our fault for playing him too much. We should’ve had Dante in for more and taken those reps down a little bit, but that’s the standard in this league and how hard you have to go and how every play matters. 

“I think he learned that. There’s some good learning examples in that game. He did some good things for us, but he also played like a rookie at times, too. To be able to do that and still be able to get away with a win where we can be hard on him for certain things, I think it was a good learning moment for him.”

George Kittle's fantasy stats could dip if 49ers offense finds balance

George Kittle's fantasy stats could dip if 49ers offense finds balance

CINCINNATI – Fantasy football owners who invested a high draft pick in 49ers tight end George Kittle might not be thrilled with Kyle Shanahan’s vision for the season.

Of course, Kittle is still the central focus of the 49ers’ passing game, and he did have two touchdown receptions from Jimmy Garoppolo called back due to penalties in the season-opening win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Shanahan hopes less Kittle translates into more balance around him for the 49ers’ offense.

“I think he will get a little more (attention) this year, but he dealt with that last year and he can still make a lot of plays when people do that,” Shanahan said of Kittle on “49ers Game Plan,” which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (TV, Ch. 3).

Shanahan said he hopes Kittle benefits from the players around him, such as Garoppolo, the offensive line, the other tight ends, the wide receivers and the running backs. The 49ers also activated running back Jeff Wilson from the practice squad on Saturday.

“The better we can balance our offense out, his stats might not be as good, but it will make his job a lot easier,” Shanahan said.

Kittle set the all-time, single-season record for NFL tight ends last season with 1,377 yards on 88 receptions.

He caught eight passes in the 49ers’ season-opening win over the Buccaneers, but he was held to just 54 yards – after his TD catches of 8 and 22 yards were wiped out due to penalties.

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The 49ers are looking for production from the wide receivers, especially Dante Pettis, who is expected to see increased playing time on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rookie Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin started and played the vast majority of the action in Week 1.

Garoppolo was up and down in his first start after missing the final 13 games of last season with a knee injury. In Week 1, Garoppolo completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 166 yards with one touchdown and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch in Week 2: Nothing changes with Matt Breida as lead back]

“When you win, that’s a little easier to deal with because you can go hard on yourself on Monday in watching the film, hard on yourself on Tuesday and then you try to work through it throughout the week,” Shanahan said.

“You try to put him in those same positions, the ones he just missed, and he’s had a good week of practice. I know that he’s happy starting 1-0, and hopefully he and everyone around him, including myself, will be a little bit better tomorrow, and hopefully we can be 2-0 because of it.”

49ers-Bengals odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 2 game

49ers-Bengals odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 2 game

Week 1 came and went faster than the timeframe of Antonio Brown's latest helmet deal being taken away. 

The 49ers kicked off the season with a 31-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. San Francisco spent this week sticking to their Community Tuesday's in Youngstown, Ohio and moving on from linebacker Kwon Alexander's hit on Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. 

The NFL didn't forget, however, and fined Alexander $28,075. This was after he received a 15-yard penalty and an ejection from the game. 

But Week 2 brings a new matchup: The Cincinnati Bengals. And according to SportsLine, the Bengals are slightly favored.

[RELATED: York optimistic about improvements he sees in Youngstown]


Caesars: CIN -2 (-110)
Consensus: CIN -1 (-106)
Westgate: CIN -1 (-110)
Wynn: CIN -2 (-110)

Here's how writers around the country see the 49ers-Bengals matchup shaking out:

Nick Wagoner, ESPN: 49ers 27, Bengals 23

Ben Baby, ESPN: 49ers 24, Bengals 17

Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com: 49ers 24, Bengals 23

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Bengals 24, 49ers 20

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Bengals 23, 49ers 20

Vincent Frank, Forbes: 49ers 30, Bengals 17

Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati Enquirer: Bengals 24, 49ers 17