49ers-Falcons could be battle between Deebo and Cordarrelle


SANTA CLARA -- Deebo Samuel in his third season with the 49ers has turned into the ultimate football player, a coach's dream looking to scheme against the opposition. As the season continues, Samuel keeps breaking records for all the ways he contributes to an offense as both a receiver and running back. There's really no comparison to him around the NFL.

That is, except for the 49ers' upcoming opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, with their own offensive weapon in Cordarrelle Patterson.

"Honestly, if there's anybody in the league to compare him to I think that's your guy," 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said Thursday. "I got a ton of respect for Cordarrelle Patterson. He's one of my favorite players in the league just for all the different fun stuff that he gets to do.

"If you're gonna compare Deebo to anybody, there's your guy." 

Patterson, who now is 30 years old and in his ninth season, has gone from a return specialist to a receiver and now a running back who also is dangerous in the passing game. Through 12 games this season, he has set new career highs as a running back with 122 carries for 547 yards and five touchdowns. He also has 46 receptions, the second-most in his career, for a career-high 519 yards and a career-best five more touchdowns. 

That's good for 1,066 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. 

Samuel, 25, has 57 receptions for 1,028 yards and five touchdowns. He also has 240 rushing yards on 33 carries and has scored six TDs on the ground. That's good for 1,268 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns. 


Ever since Patterson played collegiately at Tennessee, he has been one of 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel's favorite players. He certainly sees the comparison and believes it's a compliment to both players. 

"He was one of my favorite guys with the ball in his hands, ever," McDaniel said of watching Patterson play in college. "The way that he moved and could cut at his weight, and Deebo is very similar. They don't move necessarily the same, but you don't see guys who are football players who have an innate ability to carry the ball and avoid defenders and see space that are also tough enough to do it. 

"It's really the only comparison of guys with receiving numbers like that and rushing yards like that." 

Samuel still is listed as a receiver. However, over his last few games, he has been much more of a running back. Over the last three games Samuel has appeared in, he only has three receptions for 49 yards and hasn't scored a touchdown. But as a ball-carrier, he has 22 rushes for 182 yards and four TDs in that same three-game span. 

McDaniel isn't worried about how Samuel is touching the ball, it's just about finding the best ways for him to be a part of the offense as the game progresses. 

"With Deebo, it’s game by game, how can we get him the ball?" McDaniel said. "Some games you'll see him in the backfield more, some games you won't. It all depends on the defense and how we're able to get him the ball and what advantages it presents for the rest of the offense.”

Though Samuel and Patterson might be the NFL's two most versatile weapons this season, Juszczyk believes that multi-talented players is the DNA of the 49ers' offense. It's more than just Samuel, too. 

Juszczyk himself has 24 receptions and seven carries. Tight end George Kittle has carried the ball twice but can be seen all over the 49ers' offense, and receiver Brandon Aiyuk has five carries as well.

"It's kind of the collection of guys that Kyle's brought in here -- guys that are just football players," Juszczyk said. "I feel like we have a lot of players with unique skill sets like Deebo, like George [Kittle], I'd put myself in that category: Guys that can do things at their position that not a lot of other guys can do.

"That's kind of something that we do around here." 

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But there's only one Deebo Samuel. 

Juszczyk said Thursday that Samuel never is in the running backs room and there are many times that he's learning a play as a running back during walk-through right before executing it. Coach Bobby Turner will give him a few pointers, and then it's time to let Samuel go do what only he can do. 


"That's what's so impressive and what a natural football player Deebo is," the fullback said. "He doesn't need to be told too much. He can just go out there and he knows what feels right."

On Sunday, the NFL's two most versatile offensive weapons this season will be at Levi's Stadium. In a game full of playoff implications, look for both sides to deploy Samuel and Patterson the best, and most, that they can.

Strap in, this battle should be a fun one.

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