When their season resulted in late January, Deebo Samuel was the 49ers’ indispensable man, the man who lifted them at large receiver early within the season, who buoyed them at operating again when accidents ravaged that place and who was the heart beat of the group in its run to the NFC Championship Game.

Three months later, he needs out.

On Wednesday, Samuel confirmed to ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington what had been effervescent on social media in latest weeks — that contract negotiations with the 49ers had deteriorated to the purpose the place Samuel wants to play elsewhere in 2022.

Tough negotiations are nothing new to the 49ers, who’ve labored out position-leading offers with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tight finish George Kittle, linebacker Fred Warner and left sort out Trent Williams lately.

Kittle’s and Warner’s offers got here right down to the wire, with each gamers signing simply earlier than coaching camp. Kittle’s agent informed NFL.com that the 49ers’ preliminary supply, on Feb. 14, 2020, was so disappointing that he began calling it “The Valentine’s Day Massacre.” Kittle, nevertheless, by no means commented publicly and took half within the 49ers’ offseason program, which was held over Zoom that yr due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samuel and his group haven’t been almost as circumspect.

After negotiations obtained underway, he scrubbed references of the 49ers from his social media accounts, his older brother, Tyquan, wrote this week that Deebo “won’t be a 49er” in 2022 and Samuel didn’t present up for the beginning of the 49ers’ offseason program, which is voluntary.

So how did issues deteriorate so rapidly?

First, it’s vital to notice that Samuel’s fiery and stubborn demeanor is what fueled him on his superb 2021 run. It’s the rationale his namesake is a bully from the film “Friday.” The 49ers are actually experiencing, in contract talks, what opponents handled final season.

National experiences on Wednesday urged Samuel’s predominant beef isn’t over cash however about his position on the group. With all kinds of accidents at operating again final season, together with to the group’s home-run menace, Raheem Mostert, the 49ers started utilizing Samuel as a quasi operating again at midseason.

The transfer was a roaring success with Samuel capable of duplicate a few of Mostert’s explosion whereas additionally displaying energy to run between the tackles. At 220 kilos, he was each the group’s heaviest receiver and its largest tailback. Samuel scored six touchdowns as a receiver and eight as a operating again within the common season, then carried the ball 27 instances — and averaged greater than 5 yards a carry — within the three playoff video games.

Samuel’s position as a runner was celebrated, together with by Samuel, who coined the time period “wide back” for his new place. Asked in February if Samuel would reprise the large again position in coming seasons, Kyle Shanahan mentioned, sure.

“It’s a huge advantage for Deebo, too,” he mentioned. “It’s a way you can make sure that he gets touches. … So we always have to keep that threat, that’s what separates him. And Deebo knows that too.”

Still, there are the explanation why having operating again as a part of your job description may influence contract negotiations or the way you suppose you need to be valued.

The first is the wear and tear and tear the place receives, and the 2021 season took a toll on Samuel. He went into the locker room early at halftime within the 49ers’ wild-card spherical recreation towards the Cowboys. In snowy Green Bay, he was first sidelined by a shoulder stinger, after which, later within the recreation, he took a helmet to the kneecap that had him hopping and hobbling to the sideline.

Samuel may argue that his longevity, and thus his incomes potential, is adversely affected by how the 49ers use him and due to that he deserves greater than what the 49ers initially have provided. Neither facet has disclosed the figures which have been mentioned at this level.

Receivers are also much better compensated than operating backs, and Samuel can argue that the time he spent at operating again in 2021 eliminated a few of his worth as a wideout. For instance, in his first eight video games final season, he had 49 catches, 882 receiving yards and was one of many three most-targeted receivers within the league together with the Rams’ Cooper Kupp and the Packers’ Davante Adams.

Over the final eight when he was being utilized part-time at operating again, he had 28 catches for 523 yards. Samuel missed the Week 13 recreation with a groin harm and completed fifth within the NFL in receiving yards behind, so as, Kupp, the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, Adams and the Bengals’ JaMarr Chase.

The query now turns into simply how badly different groups need Samuel. Will they be prepared to pay him what he needs — maybe as excessive as $25 million a yr — whereas additionally utilizing him the best way he needs. It would appear as if Samuel’s best asset, and the rationale groups just like the Jets, Texans or Eagles is likely to be thinking about him, is that he’s capable of play the “wide back” position.

On the flip facet, there’s nobody on this yr’s draft who’s like Samuel or who’s seen as the moment star that Jefferson was in 2020 and Chase was final season. Instead, the draft class is considered as being brief on star receivers however total deep on the place with good choices within the center rounds.

For their half, the 49ers have been mum on the matter on Wednesday with a group spokesman saying the 49ers would maintain off on commenting till common supervisor John Lynch holds his annual pre-draft information convention on Monday.

While Samuel’s representatives are agitating for a commerce earlier than or in the course of the draft, the 49ers appear to be attempting to calm the waters to allow them to resume negotiations like they did with Kittle two years in the past. Samuel has relationship with Shanahan with the 2 routinely hanging out within the head coach’s workplace to debate upcoming recreation plans and with Shanahan usually acquiescing to Samuel’s in-game calls for to get the ball in his hand, which notably occurred simply earlier than a Samuel landing run in the course of the wild-card win towards Dallas.

They additionally don’t appear to be ready to commerce Samuel for picks within the upcoming draft. Wednesday, as an example, was the final day groups can host draft prospects. There have been no experiences of the 49ers internet hosting any potential first-rounders or gamers who may probably substitute Samuel within the beginning lineup.

Instead, the 49ers’ visitors primarily have been gamers they might take within the second or third rounds the place the group has three picks. The receivers they hosted — amongst them SMU’s Danny Gray and Tennessee’s Velus Jones — are speedy, mid-round gamers who may be capable to complement Samuel, not substitute him.

(Photo: Michael Zagaris / San Francisco 49ers / Getty Images)

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