SANTA CLARA — For the second game in a row, 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel ended the night at the top of the stat sheet which put the rookie in rare company.
Samuel racked up eight receptions for 134 yards in the 49ers' 36-26 victory over the Cardinals. That game comes on the heels of an eight-catch, 112-yard performance Monday night against the Seahawks. In doing so, he became the first rookie in franchise history since the AFL-NFL merger to register at least eight grabs and 100 receiving yards in consecutive games.
The last rookie to accomplish the same feat was Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.
Samuel injured his shoulder during the win, but with top targets Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle already missing from the lineup, the rookie locked in and battled through the pain. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has admired Samuel's mettle since he arrived in Santa Clara.
“He’s one of the guys you love to have in your foxhole,” Garoppolo said. “Get’s banged up out there, keeps coming back. Doesn’t even question it or anything, he’s a fighter, man, and you just love having guys like that on your team.”
Getting accustomed to coach Kyle Shanahan’s playbook is not an easy task to accomplish. While the rookie still has a little ways to go in knowing all the ins-and-outs of it, he has done enough to become a very reliable target for the Garoppolo.
“I was just following the game plan,” Samuel said. “As a receiver you are taught to go out there and make plays and that is what I did. We put more emphasis in the receiver room that we are going to catch like 100 to 200 balls every day in practice. So, we are more locked in, ready, and prepared.”
Samuel spoke to NBC Bay Area earlier in the week about having the physical mentality that one player won't be able to tackle him. That style of play has earned the respect of veteran cornerback Richard Sherman.
“He’s fearless,” Sherman said. “He will run through any catch. You can tell receivers running across the middle and they are looking for who is going to hit them. Deebo is looking for who he is going to hit. It’s a much different mentality for most people.
"It’s almost like you expect him to break the tackle when he catches the football and it takes a tremendous amount of trust in your quarterback, a tremendous amount of trust in your abilities to be able to play like that because some of the plays drawn up are him running into traffic.
“He’s running into a safety who is breaking and it could be a huge hit and he’s not wincing and he’s not crunching up, he’s catching the ball and running through it. That can’t be coached that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.”