Things ramp up on Monday for teams around the NFL, as OTAs get underway, but if the San Francisco 49ers were hoping to see wide receiver Deebo Samuel on the field — those hopes have quickly evaporated. Samuel, who requested a trade this offseason but has yet to receive one, remains iffy on his stance with the club, and is driving that point home by being absent on Monday as OTAs get underway for the 49ers, per NFL Network, in his yet-to-be-resolved fracture with the team.
For his part, general manager John Lynch has made it clear he has zero interest in trading away Samuel, who has been the second-biggest offensive weapon next to All-Pro tight end George Kittle and, at times, the most important. Lynch held firm on his stance by not granting Samuel’s request in the 2022 NFL Draft, when it would’ve likely occurred (e.g., Marquise “Hollywood” Brown).
As such, the 49ers expect him to report eventually.
“He’s too good of a player,” Lynch said, according to a transcription by 49ers Web Zone.. “We’ve got too good of a thing going, and we want to keep that going. That’s where I’ll leave that.”
Only, he didn’t leave it that, instead doubling down on what Samuel means to the 49ers’ offense and making his hope for a swift reconciliation crystal-clear.
“We’re trying really hard with Deebo to work through whatever the issues might be,” he added. “I always have really believed that there is a sacredness to those conversations and that they remain private, especially with things like this. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest we don’t get into that. I don’t think [the obstacles] are insurmountable.
“I think we can find a way to resolution, and we’re hopeful for that because we know what he’s been to this organization. Thirty-sixth pick in 2019, and he’s been so good on and off the field. Obviously, a tremendous player. … He makes us better. I think we make him better.
“And we’re hopeful that we get everything right and that we’re rolling forward.”
Samuel earned both his first Pro Bowl nod and All-Pro honor for his efforts in helping to lift the 49ers to the playoffs and, subsequently, victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers — both on the road — before narrowly losing in the NFC Championship to the eventual champion: the Los Angeles Rams.
Utilized as both a WR and a RB, apparently to his chagrin, he racked up 1,770 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns, and while that’s fantastic for head coach Kyle Shanahan and the club as a whole, it brings into question both Samuel’s contract (wideouts get paid exponentially more than running backs) and length of his NFL career (wideouts tend to last exponentially longer than running backs).
He did recently refollow the 49ers on social media after unfollowing and wiping his accounts, if you’re one to apply credence to such things, so that is a potential positive in favor of Lynch and Shanahan. That said, he was also recently seen during a night out on the town shaking his head “no” to patrons who insisted he’d be back with the 49ers in 2022.
There’s still much to sort out in San Francisco, and Samuel likely won’t return until every single wrinkle is ironed smooth, assuming they can be. As it stands, workouts are voluntary, but that will change when mandatory minicamp arrives in mid-June — when the 49ers could begin to fine Samuel if he still isn’t in attendance.