Where do the San Francisco 49ers and Deebo Samuel go from here? – San Francisco 49ers Blog

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington on Wednesday he has requested a trade.

There were signs over the past month or so that Samuel was increasingly unhappy with the 49ers, including scrubbing the team from his social media accounts and, this week, declining to attend the opening of the 49ers’ offseason conditioning program.

And now there are plenty of questions about how a once-strong relationship between a team and one of its best players has reached a critical inflection point.

What is the issue?

Samuel is entering the final year of his rookie contract and would like a lucrative extension. The Niners view Samuel as a foundational player and have said repeatedly they’d like to keep him long term. The Niners are also poised to give defensive end Nick Bosa a mega-contract extension soon. In recent years, the Niners have gotten deals done with players in similar situations (tight end George Kittle and linebacker Fred Warner) after lengthy negotiations. Those agreements have happened closer to training camp, however, allowing the Niners to go through free agency and the draft first.

The receiver market has exploded this year with Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs earning contracts that have reshaped the going rate for a top wideout. And while the ceiling has been reset, the floor has, too, as a less accomplished wideout such as Jacksonville’s Christian Kirk received an eye-opening contract averaging $18 million per year.

So Samuel wants a new deal and he isn’t the only one. Tennessee’s A.J. Brown, Seattle’s DK Metcalf and Washington’s Terry McLaurin were all non first-round picks in the same draft as Samuel (2019) who are eligible for extensions.

Samuel’s situation, however, is different. While others still seeking a deal have longer résumés of production as traditional receivers, much of Samuel’s success is tied to his added value as a running back, which, in theory, could raise his price tag above the other wideouts getting paid. But that versatility cuts both ways. It simultaneously increases Samuel’s earning power but also takes a bigger toll on his body and, potentially, his career longevity.

At the end of the season, Samuel indicated he was OK with the dual role, even coining the term “wide back.”

“I’m perfectly fine with it,” Samuel said then. “Like I stated all year long, I’m down for whatever to help this team win in whatever aspect it is.”

At the time, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Samuel would have a “very similar” role in 2022 but acknowledged the Niners “have to be careful with that.” Still, it’s fair to wonder if Samuel would prefer to play a more traditional receiver role (and thus be paid like one) or, at minimum, have those running back snaps reduced.

What are the 49ers’ options?

Just because Samuel has requested a trade doesn’t mean the Niners will trade him. They have a few options:

What is the timing?



Rob Ninkovich shares his thoughts on reports that Deebo Samuel is looking for a new deal from the 49ers after his breakout season.

If the Niners decide to trade Samuel, it would make sense to do it sooner than later.

The NFL draft is set to begin on April 28 and it would behoove the 49ers to know not only if they have a first-round pick but what holes they need to fill if they do. Suffice to say, losing Samuel would create some enormous holes.

That doesn’t mean Samuel wouldn’t be traded later on. If he’s still on the Niners by the end of the first round, though, it should send a clear message on how the Niners intend to handle what has become a messy situation.