Deebo Samuel says his relationship with coach Kyle Shanahan has never been stronger, though it wasn’t always that way. In fact, upon the wide receiver’s arrival as a second-round pick in 2019, the two couldn’t stand each other with Samuel spending most of his rookie year in Shanahan’s doghouse.
“My rookie year was rough. I used to go to practice with dark shields on my helmet just so he couldn’t see my eyes because I was cussing him out. Kyle, he doesn’t play when it comes to receivers. He coached us harder than anybody on the field,” Samuel relayed to Kevin Clark during his recent visit to Radio Row. “It’s the small things that will lose you the game. Kyle’s real huge on details. Being decisive. Breaking the huddle right. Hearing everything. Every single word in the huddle, when you think it doesn’t matter, it matters.”
Though he had to work for Shanahan’s trust, the two eventually became inseparable with Samuel now seeing his coach as something of a father figure. A former wide receiver himself at the University of Texas (where he shared a huddle with Chris Simms and Cedric Benson, among other future pros), Shanahan has been lauded for his collaborative approach, frequently running his ideas by players before implementing them.
“You don’t see too many coaches like him in the aspect of, he asks [players] our input on everything that goes on with the team,” said Samuel, who logged five touchdowns this season (two receiving, three rushing), nine fewer than he scored during his breakout 2021. “Like I know so much about Kyle you would think he’s my pops or something. Like how much we talk, he’ll probably call me within the next couple days and be in Cabo chilling with his family. We got that kind of relationship.”
A year ago at this time, Samuel wasn’t sure if he’d be back in San Francisco, deleting all mention of the 49ers from his social media accounts in hopes of being traded. However, that turned out to be a negotiating tactic, with Deebo and the Niners eventually coming together on a three-year contract extension, keeping him in San Fran through his age-32 season.
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