Even if Deebo Samuel showed up at mandatory minicamp Tuesday to avoid financial penalties, the 49ers apparently are trying to do their part to warm him up to the idea of staying in San Francisco.
Samuel asked for a trade earlier this offseason for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. One line of reporting and rumors suggested that Samuel was displeased with his high use as a running back in the 49ers offense.
Whatever the case, Samuel basically told the 49ers not to make him a contract offer, but they’re intent on keeping him at least for this season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, but would become a restricted free agent if he were to stage a season-long holdout.
So, things are in flux. But during an appearance on the “Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday, NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport shared where things are at.
“The 49ers have done a couple things. I know they’ve been talking to him the last couple days trying to get him to come in. So, he comes into minicamp, he does not get fined $100,000,” Rapoport said. “What the 49ers I think have done is try to say to him we’re not going to use you as a running back. They drafted a running back in the third round, they have a couple good running backs coming back from last year. I think they want to use him on the gadget plays, but not give it to him between the tackles 15 times. That is something that actually speaks, maybe, louder than a new contract.
“He wants to be paid as a receiver. This (next) contract is great, but he doesn’t want it to be his only contract. I mean, we see what happens to running backs, they get beat up. It’s actually really forward-thinking and smart, it really is.”
Whether that arrangement is enough to get Samuel to stay in San Francisco even beyond next season remains to be seen, but it’s certainly no guarantee.
“They’ve got a lot of work to get a deal done," Rapoport said. "I think it’s possible, but it’s not one of those where I’d say it’s going to get done just wait two or three (days). It’s a really, really hard one.”
Samuel is the type of player who can change an entire offense, and having him around is imperative for San Francisco. Even if it means reeling in the number of carries, that ultimately might be a comparatively small price to pay.