San Francisco 49ers consider offensive options for newly signed Deebo Samuel, ‘a special player’

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel signed his lucrative three-year contract extension Monday, ending questions about whether he will stay with the team for the foreseeable future.

But Samuel’s new deal also brought up many other questions about his future, the most pressing of which is: Will the Niners continue to use him in the hybrid “wide back” role that propelled Samuel to All-Pro status in the past season first team has raised?

The answer is yes, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, but the form it takes depends on several factors.

“I find [it’s] based on whatever happens,” Shanahan said. “From my standpoint, from the staff of our team, from Deebos, from what we think gives the best odds of winning, if we could get Deebo to do that, it would have been something wanted to run back that we were honest….You can’t do that with anyone.You have to do that with a special player and Deebo is a special player.That’s why he deserved this contract and I think that’s why he will deserve it in the future.”

What Samuel has earned is a three-year extension through the 2025 season, agreed on Sunday, that’s worth up to $73.5 million and includes $58.1 million in guarantees. As it turns out, some of that max value is directly tied to incentives Samuel can get for fulfilling this dual role at a similar production rate to 2021.

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter Monday that Samuel could earn up to $1.95 million over the life of his contract if he meets certain benchmarks for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Samuel can earn $650,000 for each season he rushes for 380 or more yards. If he doesn’t meet the rushing yardage total, he can earn $150,000 in bonuses each season he scores at least three rushing touchdowns. In any case, he can’t make more than $650,000 total per season or more than $1.95 million during the contract period for these quick incentives.

For comparison, Samuel had his most prolific rushing season as a pro in 2021 with 365 yards and eight touchdowns, making the TD incentive likely to be earned and the rushing total unlikely to be earned for salary cap purposes.

Throughout the off-season, speculation lingered that Samuel had been unhappy with his role and wanted to cut back on rushed attempts. But Shanahan said last week that he and Samuel are “on the same page” on the use.

Shanahan reiterated Monday that Samuel will again play a prominent role in plans to help the 49ers win, depending on opponents, what they see in the film, how the 53-man roster develops and potential staffing groupings.

“If Deebo stays healthy and he’s able to practice and see things through, Deebo is capable of anything,” Shanahan said. “That’s why he’s helped us so much to win, whether it’s in the passing game or the running game or whether it’s that one time we’ve asked him to block or throw. When you have people who have skills that can do a bunch of things that you always want to do.”

After signing his contract on Monday morning, Samuel took part in practice with his teammates for the first time this season, a session that also happened to be the team’s first fully padded practice session.

Since it was Samuel’s first practice session, the Niners let him in and kept him on a fast count, and they’ll continue to increase his workload as the days go by, according to Shanahan. Samuel made a few catches for big gains from backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld in his limited work in team practices.

Left tackle Trent Williams, who is a close friend of Samuel, said there was a noticeable boost in energy to have him back in the group.

“You watch what he does wisely, you see what he does wisely, you see the spark that he is to the team,” Williams said. “You see us coming out of the dressing room, it’s not just for show. So we are in the dressing room. If you go in now, this boombox is probably right next to his locker. He’s that kind of person and that’s why he’s important to this organization and that’s why we had to have him.” San Francisco 49ers consider offensive options for newly signed Deebo Samuel, ‘a special player’

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