Thursday, January 20, 2022

49ers’ Deebo Samuel scores a rushing TD for fifth consecutive game; receiver keeps setting records as a runner

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Deebo Samuel is a special kind of player. He’s so explosive, so efficient, so versatile that he just might be among the very best in the league at two different positions. 

Earlier this season, Samuel was excelling like few others in the NFL as a wide receiver. Through the first 10 weeks of the year, Samuel ranked second in the NFL in receiving yards, behind only Cooper Kupp. He also led the entire league in yards per route run during that time, and he led all non-running backs in yards after catch per reception. 

With 49ers starting running back Elijah Mitchell missing three of the team’s last five games, though, Samuel has been splitting his time between receiver and running back. Not just taking handoffs on jet sweeps and end-arounds. Actually playing running back. And he’s been so good at it that he’s setting a bunch of records. 

Samuel scored on a 10-yard run against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Incredibly, that marked Samuel’s seventh rushing touchdown this season. 

According to ESPN’s Stats & Information department, that is already the most rushing touchdowns scored in a single season during the Super Bowl era by a player who was primarily a wide receiver. The previous high-water mark was just five. Sunday’s game against Atlanta was also Samuel’s fifth consecutive contest with a rushing score — the longest streak by a wide receiver during the Super Bowl era. The previous longest streak was just two games. 

What’s perhaps most impressive about what Samuel is doing is that he’s doing it on rather limited volume. He has aligned in the backfield on only 6.5% of his snaps, according to TruMedia. His season high in carries in a game is only eight and he has just 37 carries on the year (with the game against Cincinnati currently in the fourth quarter). That means he’s scored on just about one out of every five rushing attempts, which is an outrageous rate of finding the end zone. And he’s still got three games left to add to his already record-breaking total.

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