The 2023 NFL season is Deebo Samuel’s fifth in the league but his first as a 49ers team captain, and Trent Williams couldn’t be happier for the wide receiver.
After San Francisco’s 30-12 win over the New York Giants on Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium, Williams spoke not only about Samuel’s impressive on-field performance, but about the leader he has become in the locker room.
“I think just seeing the way he came back ready to work,” Williams said after the game. “He looked totally different from the last time we had seen him. Obviously the weight cut, it was very noticeable from the second he walked in.”
But it wasn’t just the weight, it was Samuel’s focus and diligence. It even might have been his announcement to the world that his 2022 performance was not good enough for himself or the 49ers.
Actions speak louder than words, however, and Samuel has been all about proving he’s back this season. The All-Pro closed out Thursday night’s contest catching six of his 12 targets for 129 yards and a touchdown, leaving Giants defenders in his wake.
Of Samuel’s 129 receiving yards, 78 came after the catch, and the receiver forced six total missed tackles — the most for any receiver in a single game this season.
But even before the first kickoff in Week 1, the locker room acknowledged Samuel’s hard work.
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“I love it for him, because he’s one of those guys who is going to keep pushing himself for more to be better and continue to try to make a difference,” Williams said. “I think he’s been teetering around that captain status for the last few years, ever since he’s been looked at as that top dog in the wide receivers room, the most tenured.”
Through three contests, Samuel has shown he is on a roll with 17 receptions on 28 targets for 247 yards, a touchdown and a 14.5 yard per reception average. The “wide back” is on the same blistering pace as he was in 2021, when he registered 1,405 regular season yards and was named All-Pro.
“Obviously, he contributes a lot to this team,” Williams said. “I think this year he finally — I guess everybody has finally seen enough. He’s a hell of a playmaker, and I think he shows it every time we step out on that field.”
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