Shanahan impressed by Samuel's unusual pregame mental state


Deebo Samuel has become famous for being an incredible jack-of-all-trades, but his mental approach to the game is what impresses Kyle Shanahan the most. 

The multi-faceted receiver has done it all in his third NFL season. Samuel leads the 49ers with 77 catches on 121 targets for 1,405 yards which ranked him fifth in the league. The Pro Bowl wideout is second to teammate Elijah Mitchell in rushing yards (365) and leads the team with 14 total touchdowns.

Shanahan might be more impressed with how calm the star receiver is prior to kick-off. 

“He’ll be asleep right before kickoff and he'll come out and not hesitate on the first play,” Shanahan said on Monday via conference call. “So when you're like that, it allows your heart rate to be level, your breath to be level. 

“You have a certain point to you, so you can kind of do the more instinctual stuff and yet still be violent enough to play at the level he does. It’s not something you see in a lot of athletes.”

Samuel notably leads the league with 18.2 yards-per-reception which is made possible by an incredible 54.6 percent (768) of his receiving yards coming after the catch. The receiver added a passing touchdown to his resume, connecting with fellow receiver Jauan Jennings in the 49ers' 27-24 win over the Rams in Week 18.


“Deebo is one of the most aware people I've been around and one of the smarter receivers I've been around,” Shanahan said. “It’s extremely natural to him. He works hard, but not the stuff that you can't work at, just how he sees it live and the feel he has and the poise he has. That's what is so cool.”  

Shanahan's relationship with Samuel began at the Senior Bowl in 2019. He knew his roster needed a physical receiver and the South Carolina product fit the build, but at the time the head coach had no idea how much Samuel would be capable of.

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After an injury-filled sophomore season where Samuel was only able to appear in seven games, the physical receiver came into the 2021 offseason in the best shape of his football career. Starting the regular season healthy has paid off, leading to career-bests in several categories. Samuel’s intensity on the field is just the icing on the cake. 

“You see a lot of guys play pretty physically in this league,” Shanahan said. “But guys have to really go to a certain place to get to that level and Deebo doesn't, that's just naturally who he is.” 

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