Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel had plenty to keep him busy as he prepared for his first 49ers regular-season game with a cross-country flight to Tampa, Florida.
As he packed his bags Friday for a nine-day trip, Samuel said his mind was on the work ahead of him -- and not his NFL debut.
“I feel very comfortable,” Samuel said. “I’m still studying. When I get on the plane I still have stuff to do. When game time comes, I feel like I’m going to be well-prepared.
“I try to stay calm until Sunday morning -- maybe Saturday night.”
The 49ers’ season opener on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers comes with a lot of question marks. Near the top of the list of unknowns is which wide receiver will emerge as a reliable target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Samuel is a good guess.
“That’s going to be interesting as we go through each game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s something that isn’t set and it depends on the play called and the personnel in.”
The 49ers have not identified their starting receivers among a group that consists of Samuel, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and Richie James. Those five receivers are expected to be active for the game on Sunday with Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd ruled out due to injuries. Shanahan said each of the team's active receivers will have a role in Week 1.
The 49ers selected Samuel in the second round of the draft, as the 49ers looked to upgrade the strength of their receiving corps. Hurd, the team’s third-round draft pick, is out indefinitely with a back issue.
Samuel was not unleashed in the preseason, though he ranked second on the 49ers with six receptions for 104 yards. The 49ers coached Samuel at the Senior Bowl, where they witnessed his playmaking ability and tough, determined running style after the catch.
Samuel said he likes the team’s game plan to go up against the Buccaneers, but has not wasted any energy on projecting what it might mean for his stat line on Sunday.
“I just go out and contribute to the team in any aspect of the game,” he said. “I don’t set personal goals. I just go out there and do what I got to do.”