Deebo Samuel had a tremendous rookie season for the 49ers, during which the wide receiver showed an elite ability to make defenders miss.
Among all San Francisco pass-catchers, Samuel trailed only tight end George Kittle in receptions (57), targets (81), receiving yards (802) and yards after the catch (481). He caught three touchdowns through the air and added another three scores and 159 rushing yards on the ground.
Considering it was his first NFL season, there is every reason to believe Samuel can improve upon those numbers in his sophomore season with the 49ers. NFL Network's Kay Adams subscribes to that theory.
"I think there's a real chance that our boy, Deebo Samuel, is the No. 1 wide receiver for the high-scoring San Francisco 49ers next year," Adams said on Thursday's episode of "Good Morning Football." "On the ground, through the air, I'm going to say -- it doesn't even seem very bold at all -- 1,000 through the air, 500 on the ground. I say it happens."
While Adams' prediction would require Samuel to be even more productive next season, there's a reason why she didn't consider it very bold. For one, Samuel became a larger part of San Francisco's offense as the season wore on, culminating with a performance in Super Bowl LIV in which he was targeted a team-high nine times, caught a team-high five balls for 39 receiving yards and added another 53 yards on three rushes.
There's also a distinct possibility that Samuel enters next season as the 49ers' No. 1 receiver. Emmanuel Sanders, who assumed that role after coming over in a midseason trade with the Denver Broncos, is an unrestricted free agent, and there's no guarantee he returns for a second season with San Francisco. Even if Sanders does, the 49ers might opt to put the much younger Samuel in a position to claim that title, as he surely fits into the organization's long-term plans.
With any luck, Samuel should have an even better sophomore campaign than his first. The talent obviously is there, and so is the opportunity.