Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, the old vet, gave the youngster some words of encouragement after a rough beginning to his day in Week 4.
Then, Samuel, a third-year professional, had a scary moment as the person who became responsible for holding up his end of the bargain.
Rookie quarterback Trey Lance entered last week’s game for the 49ers at the beginning of the third quarter when starter Jimmy Garoppolo could not continue due to a right calf injury. Things did not get off to a good start.
“I know what it’s like to be thrown into the fire as a rookie,” Samuel told NBC Sports Bay Area. “So after his first drive, I go to him and said, ‘Hey, man, all right, let’s go.’ I tried to get him riled up. ‘All right, you got the jitters out. Now go out here be yourself and make plays.’ And that’s exactly what happened.”
The 49ers fell behind by 14 points, and Lance made a play to find Samuel wide open against a Seattle busted coverage.
Lance's pass seemed to hang in the air for several seconds. No defender was anywhere near Samuel along the right sideline.
“That’s the scary part,” said Samuel, who leads the NFL entering Week 5 with 490 receiving yards. “When you’re that wide open, you’re like, ‘All right, I have to catch it. I have to catch.’ I caught it with my body to ensure I made the catch.”
Samuel said the 49ers took advantage of Seattle safety Jamal Adams’ aggressiveness against the run. Samuel caught the pass, turned upfield and took it the rest of the way for a 76-yard touchdown.
Samuel was mic'd up for the game, and he was captured telling Lance, "That's exactly what I told you!"
Samuel could play a huge role Sunday as Lance starts his first NFL game after the 49ers selected him with the No. 3 overall pick. The 49ers (2-2) face the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals in a key NFC West matchup.
Samuel will be counted on to take advantage of what the Cardinals defense gives him within the structure of the offense. He will be expected to make plays with his improvisational skills as a runner, too.
Tight end George Kittle will be out for a few weeks after going on injured reserve Saturday, so it will be incumbent upon the entire team to do its best to support Lance.
Samuel said they expect Lance to take care of business.
“I wouldn’t say pick up the slack because we’re all grown men, and Trey is a young grown man himself,” Samuel said. “He knows what his job consist of, and he’ll do a good job. Our job is to make sure he has confidence to go out there and play the game he knows how to play.”