We will find out more information about Deebo Samuel’s shoulder and how much progress he’s made later on Wednesday afternoon. Samuel was still hurting too much as of Monday for the Niners to know enough regarding whether he’d be able to play next Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
CBS Sports analyst Jeff Kerr discussed a few topics from the divisional round and one of those was whether it was an overreaction or reality whether the 49ers could beat the Lions without Deebo. Kerr believes it’s a reality:
The proof is in the pudding: the 49ers aren’t the same team with Samuel off the field as they are when he’s on the field. San Francisco has an 8-9 record (24.2 points per game) without Deebo Samuel since drafting him in 2019 and are 53-23 (26.8 points per game) with Samuel since 2019.
Samuel obviously makes a difference in that lineup, so his shoulder will be worth monitoring throughout the week. When the 49ers went on their three-game losing streak in October, Samuel didn’t play in any of those games. The 49ers average 5.7 yards per play when Samuel isn’t in the lineup compared to 7.1 when he plays.
The 49ers need Samuel on the field if they want to beat the Lions. This is a team that also has Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Trent Williams on offense, but Samuel is the cheat code that makes the offense nearly unstoppable.
Samuel was limited to nine snaps against the Packers but had two targets on the same drive. He was also the kick returner over Ray-Ray McCloud. The 49ers want to get Samuel involved as much as possible.
The argument shouldn’t be whether the Niners are worse without Deebo. Everybody knows that’s correct. We’re talking about a player two years removed from an All-Pro season. The question is if the Niners can get past the Lions without Samuel.
Blaming Samuel for nine losses is putting a lot on his shoulders. Had the 49ers lost to the Packers, it wouldn’t have been because Deebo didn’t play. Watching the Browns, Vikings, and Bengals games felt the same way.
He didn’t miss a field goal in Cleveland. Deebo didn’t fumble in the red zone in Minnesota. And he wasn’t playing cornerback in Cincinnati.
Can the 49ers beat a defense that gave up 807 passing yards in two starts to Nick Mullens in December? It wasn’t pretty when you look at how the ‘Lions’ defense performed on the road this season.
In Week 10, they allowed 38 points to the Chargers. Derek Carr scored 28 points in New Orleans in the next road game. Mullens threw four interceptions at home and still managed to put up 24 on the scoreboard. The Cowboys only reached 19, but Dallas had an interception and a fumble and had to settle for two field goals despite starting in the Lions’ territory on one of those possessions.
Nobody is debating Deebo’s importance to the 49ers. The debate is if the best offense in the NFL can bounce back after one of their worst performances of the year against a defense that has struggled on the road.