Pick a player, any player—the depth of the San Francisco 49ers this season is one of the biggest reasons pundits have predicted them as likely Super Bowl competitors. Just look at Pro Bowl voting, where San Francisco led all NFL teams with nine selections, including their two MVP frontrunners, QB Brock Purdy and RB Christian McCaffrey.
Another 12 San Francisco players made the Pro Bowl alternate list, including wide receiver Deebo Samuel. The fifth-year wideout recently tied former Washington wide receiver Charley Taylor’s elite NFL record in surpassing 4,000 receiving yards (he’s a 4,122) and 1,000 rushing yards (1,007 and counting) in their first 5 NFL seasons.
We talked with Samuel ahead of the Niners’ divisional face-off with the Green Bay Packers this weekend.
GQ: What’s it been like watching the evolution of Brock Purdy?
Deebo Samuel: It’s hard to say “watch” because I’m out there playing with him, but I get what you’re saying. Brock has been amazing. Week in and week out, he’s been getting better. Ever since he stepped in the huddle, he is a guy we respect well over here. Ready to see what we do in this playoff run.
I had no input on what was being made or what was being put on it. My teammate Kyle Juszczyk—we call him “Juice”—his wife said she had something for me. I liked it, and she did a great job of making it, so I wore it to the game.
A lot of people have Christian McCaffrey in that MVP conversation, as well as Lamar Jackson. Who do you think is going to get the nod?
It’s between Brock or Christian.
Peyton Manning said in a recent interview that if he could play for any head coach in the NFL right now, he’d want to play for Kyle Shanahan. Why do you think Peyton picked your head coach?
The mind that he has. I’ve been with Kyle for five years…the position he puts players in, it’s so much that go into it for us, like motions and formations and play calling. It’s so detail-oriented and he just does an amazing job.
You’re at 5,129 total yards and 38 TDs in your career so far–how many total yards do you think we’ll see from you?
By the time I’m done, I hope to surpass 10,000 for sure.
Are you a goals person? Are you writing down goals at the beginning of the season as you prepare?
No, not at all. Zero.
Okay. So then during the season, are you keeping track of those stats and knowing when you’re about to break records and have a big day?
I don’t even know unless somebody breaks it to me.
The journey started when I was in college. My nutritionist brought it to me when I was dealing with an injury. She said, “You should drink this and see how it works.” It took off from then. As you grow as a player, you get more information about certain things, and I thought this would be great to use in my day-to-day life as far as recovery. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be available, and I do my best to be available all the time.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over your five years in the league?
Actually how to be a pro, in the sense of knowing what it takes to be a guy in this league. Knowing what it takes to be at the top of your game—the ins and outs of everything. [Longtime wide receiver] Emmanuel Sanders, when he was here, did a great job when he was here of being my mentor and my tour de force and all those type of things.
Read the full article here