Deebo Samuel is in a class of his own among NFL wide receivers.
Coach Kyle Shanahan and 49ers use Samuel in a unique way, relying on him to make defenders miss in the open field and power through contact otherwise. Samuel's almost like a running back split out wide, catching passes at -- or, more likely, behind -- the line of scrimmage before gaining the vast majority of his yardage after the catch.
Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle compiled a graph that summed up Samuel's one-of-a-kind skill set, showing that no NFL receivers match his ability to gain yards after the catch and force missed tackles.
Samuel has played in 22 of 32 regular-season games during two NFL seasons, compiling 90 receptions for 1,193 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He has also carried the ball 22 times for 185 yards and three TDs. Samuel's 12.3 yards per touch are 30th in the NFL among the 161 players with at least 100 scrimmage touches over the last two years.
The 49ers need Samuel healthy in 2021, as their offense missed a vital dimension while the 25-year-old contended with foot and hamstring injuries last season. San Francisco was 3-4 with Samuel in the lineup last season and 3-6 without him.
Whether Jimmy Garoppolo or the 2021 NFL Draft's No. 3 overall pick is throwing him passes, Samuel will be a reliable target for the 49ers. His uniqueness is a real asset, and Shanahan has schemed the receiver accordingly over the last two seasons.
As long as Samuel's healthy, it's on the 49ers to make the most of his distinctive skills.