There have been plenty of comparisons between Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk since the two became teammates with the 49ers. Both are wideouts taken in the first two rounds of the last two NFL drafts, and both bring a physicality to the position not typically seen coming out of college.
It appears the 49ers are using Aiyuk in a role very similar to how Samuel was utilized during his rookie year, especially with Deebo missing the 49ers’ first three games while recovering from an offseason foot fracture.
Samuel carried the ball 14 times during his first season in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and the 49ers coach seems to be dialing up almost identical plays for Aiyuk during his rookie campaign.
Samuel carried the ball twice in the 49ers’ dominant win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, gaining 43 yards in addition to his 46 receiving yards. Aiyuk got three carries in a 36-9 drubbing of the New York Giants in Week 3, including his first 49ers touchdown.
Samuel was placed on injured reserve before the season, forcing him to miss at least the 49ers’ first four games. He reportedly is expected to return in Week 5, when the 49ers welcome the Miami Dolphins to Levi’s Stadium.
Until then, don’t be surprised if the injury-riddled Shanahan offense continues to employ Aiyuk in Samuel’s role, and make use of his athletic versatility.