When 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel removed all evidence of the team from his social-media pages, it quite possibly wasn’t an act or a ruse or a negotiating ploy. Samuel may indeed be done with the 49ers.
Things took a turn on Tuesday, in two different ways.
First, Adam Schefter of ESPN declared on the air (although has not tweeted), that Samuel has pulled the plug on contract talks with the 49ers.
“San Francisco would pay Deebo Samuel today, tomorrow, the next day. It’s not hard to figure out what the contract would look like, we’ve seen some of the top numbers in the league,” Schefter said, via Wilton Jackson of SI.com. “This, I think right now, is Deebo Samuel not wanting to get a deal done. . . . The 49ers are ready. Deebo Samuel is the one who has put a halt to everything for right now.”
Second, Deebo’s brother, Tyquan Samuel, made multiple social-media comments indicating that Deebo wants to be traded, and that he won’t be a member of the 49ers.
It’s unclear how it got to this point. Our best guess is that negotiations commenced, and that the 49ers made Samuel an offer that he regarded as too low. Sufficiently low to prompt Samuel to conclude that the team will never offer him anything close to what he wants.
Recently, Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeted that Samuel wants to be the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL. Technically, the highest-paid non-quarterback in new-money average is Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill, at $30 million per year. (To get to that number, the contract included a phony final season at $45 million.)
So would the 49ers pay him that kind of money? There’s currently a school of thought in the NFL that no receiver touches the ball enough times to merit that kind of cash. There’s another school of thought that has resulted in teams like the Raiders and Dolphins surrendering major trade assets and cash for pass-catchers. To know what the 49ers are inclined to do with Samuel, we need to know where the 49ers fall when it comes to valuing receivers.
Coach Kyle Shanahan quite possibly thinks he could find another receiver who can do in the 49ers offense the things that Deebo Samuel currently does. Maybe Shanahan can. But it’s one hell of a risk to take. Currently, the 49ers have one of the most dangerous weapons in the sport, a hard-nosed, dual-threat receiver and running back who easily can become the focal point of any offense in the league.
From the 49ers’ perspective, it’s a chicken-egg question. Did they make Samuel, or did Samuel make them?
The 49ers quite possibly think they can find another Deebo. That mindset quite possibly was reflected in whatever negotiations have occurred. And those negotiations quite possibly have caused Samuel to decide that he’s ready to move on.