49ers Brock Purdy Sends Strong Message to Deebo Samuel on Injury Return

Heading into the NFC Championship game on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers will be eager to see just how much progress wide receiver Deebo Samuel can make as he attempts to make a quick turnaround following a shoulder injury that knocked him out of last week’s playoff game against the Packers. Samuel was limited in practice on Thursday, but the fact that he could practice at all was a positive. And one guy who is rooting for Samuel in particular is quarterback Brock Purdy.

The 49ers have a wide array of options for Purdy, but Samuel is one of the most reliable. The 49ers use Samuel in a variety of ways, but one of his strengths is his ability to take a pass of any length and turn it into something bigger. Samuel led the league with an average of 8.8 yards after the catch, meaning that no matter where Purdy found Samuel, he would, on average, pick up nine-10ths of another first down.

So Purdy had a message for Samuel: We’d love to have you back.

“Obviously, he’s probably the best playmaker in this league,” Purdy said. “You get the ball in his hands, he can do whatever he wants. He makes guys miss, breaks tackles, he’s strong, he’s tough, he’s got grit and we all feed off it. Deebo definitely gives us some juice and energy and momentum on our offense. If he’s not playing, obviously that’s tough on us, but we’ll have guys to be able to play as well that can create that as well. If you’re asking me, we’d love for Deebo to play.”

49ers Brock Purdy Has Taken Advantage of Deebo Samuel’s Skills

It won’t be down to Purdy, however, to make that decision. Samuel still does not have a full range of motion in the left shoulder, and won’t play unless he does. He suffered the injury while, naturally, fighting for extra yards after a catch late in the first quarter against Green Bay. The fact that he was on the field for practice is, at least, encouraging.

While Samuel has ceded some of his starring role with the 49ers this year to breakout star Brandon Aiyuk, he still caught 62 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns, and rushed for 225 yards and five touchdowns. And there is no question that the 49ers are a much better team when he plays. In his career, he has missed 17 games, and San Francisco has gone 8-9 in those games. The 49ers are 46-20 when he plays.

More George Kittle 49ers?

If Samuel does not play, it could lead the 49ers to get the ball more to star tight end George Kittle, who was an All Pro this year with 65 catches and 1,020 yards. Kittle had four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Packers.

He’s not looking to play hero, though. Kittle wants to win, and that means getting Samuel back.

“Deebo is always great,” Kittle said after practice on Thursday. “Just excited for him to be out there. He’s just such a huge part of our offense and everything that we do. And just his energy itself is infectious and he gets guys going and gets them confident. … Very excited to have Deebo out there. He looks great.”

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