Shanahan sees noticeable difference in Deebo’s game in 2023

Shanahan sees noticeable difference in Deebo’s game in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — It has not taken coach Kyle Shanahan long to see the difference that one year has made with 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

“He’s in much better condition,” Shanahan said on Tuesday. “He had a much better training camp. He was able to get through it all and get better throughout it.

“He’s in the best shape, doesn’t have to come out as much, doesn’t have to take as many plays off and is playing as good as I’ve seen him play.”

Through two games, Samuel has played 88 percent of the 49ers’ offensive snaps. He has 11 receptions for 118 yards along with seven rushing attempts for 47 yards and one touchdown.

Samuel went through a contract issue in the spring and summer of 2022. He admitted that the off-field distraction carried over onto the field, as his physical conditioning was not up to par.

Shanahan spoke with Samuel about that in June. The two men watched game video of last season, and Samuel saw exactly what Shanahan was saying.

“It was a very positive, good conversation,” Shanahan said. “It wasn’t hard or anything, but it was a very real conversation. That’s what I love about Deebo so much because he’s an extremely real person and if you talk to him the right way and you show him stuff, he’s not going to B.S. us or himself.”

On the same day Shanahan had that tough-love talk, Samuel revealed to the media that he felt his performance in 2022 was “awful.”

He said, “I’ll never put anything like that on tape again.”

And, thus far, he is living up to his word.

Samuel’s production fell off dramatically last season from his All-Pro year of 2021, when he had 1,405 yards and six touchdowns receiving as well as 365 and eight touchdowns rushing.

“I didn’t expect him to have that reaction with you guys a couple hours later,” Shanahan said of Samuel’s public critique. “But I was very pleased with the result.”

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