Rumors over 49ers’ Deebo Samuel have already gone full throttle

Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half during Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Focus On Sport/Getty Images

There’s subverting expectations, and then there’s what the San Francisco 49ers did with their first-round draft pick Thursday.

In selecting — and perhaps overreaching for — a young, athletic receiver, the Niners somehow not only managed to put Brandon Aiyuk trade rumors to bed, but also kicked up a whole new storm of rumors surrounding their other star wideout who was once thought to be a certain part of the team’s future: Deebo Samuel.

This wasn’t completely out of the blue, although that didn’t dull the surprise by much. Heading into Thursday’s draft, Samuel’s name appeared in rumors as a potential trade target for a high draft pick. Whether it was the Niners themselves shopping the multi-positional talent, or other teams sniffing out his availability, is not entirely clear, but his name was out there well before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made his heavily jeered appearance to start the draft show.

Advertisement Article continues below this ad

Niners intrigue quieted down as the draft proceeded past the early-to-mid-round picks, which were the ones the team was reportedly targeting for any draft day trade. It felt unlikely that Aiyuk — who is still trying to get a pretty large contract extension from the 49ers — or the supposedly entrenched Samuel, would move. But just as the door was about to shut on any further noise stemming from the Niners, the organization smashed both the door and its surrounding walls wide open with a battering ram in selecting Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall.

Within about five minutes of the pick coming through, Mike Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on social media, “Based on my conversations with other teams, the 49ers are now more likely to deal Deebo Samuel than they are Brandon Aiyuk. Stay tuned.” (The Chronicle and SFGATE are both owned by Hearst but have separate newsrooms).

Any Niners fans who awoke Friday morning from a coma that began, say, in April 2022, would think the world hadn’t changed much in their time out of consciousness. In a flash, months of question marks surrounding Aiyuk’s future with the team immediately shifted over to Samuel instead. Following the draft, neither general manager John Lynch nor head coach Kyle Shanahan ruled out the possibility of either player getting traded, still, meaning the receiver room is far from settled.

In his story published Thursday, Silver suggested that the Samuel’s wear and tear and injury history throughout the last couple seasons — especially since he started playing more in the backfield as of 2021 — might make him worth replacing with a younger speedy receiver. On Friday, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco juxtaposed Samuel’s ability to break opposing zone defenses with Pearsall’s ability to dominate against man coverage, a defensive approach that the Niners struggled with in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. Maiocco’s story came shortly after CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reported that the Patriots had had “preliminary trade discussions” with the Niners about Samuel.

Advertisement Article continues below this ad

In case that wasn’t enough to stir the pot, about 40 minutes after Anderson’s post, Silver laid out on social media exactly why a Samuel trade is the most logical outcome between the next two days of drafting.

“Play this out: 49ers don’t trade Deebo,” Silver wrote. “They pay Aiyuk. Deebo then has a lame-duck season in which watches his successor, and the incumbent receiver they chose over him, be focal points of the offense. Seems awkward. I expect a trade.”

Advertisement Article continues below this ad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights