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Morning Report: Deebo Samuel Makes NFL's 'Most Underappreciated' List

Good Morning Faithful,

Here are the top 49ers headlines for Monday, June 7.

New and Notable

NFL's Most Underappreciated Players: NFC Picks

NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund looked through every NFL roster to identify the most underappreciated player on each team predominately using the season-long contribution metric. The metric encompasses a value for every snap by each player and reveals each player's contribution to the team's overall win total. For San Francisco, Frelund pinpointed third-year wideout Deebo Samuel, despite his abridged 2020 season.

"Here's an awesome Next Gen Stat: In his injury-abbreviated 2020 campaign, Samuel was the only receiver to earn more YAC (406) than actual receiving yards (391). Pro Football Focus shows that he cut down on the drops, going from 10 (on 77 targets) as a rookie to three (on 44 targets) last season. Per NGS, Samuel logged 13 receptions, 197 yards and a touchdown on 15 crossing-route targets for a 141.0 passer rating when targeted on such passes. I love pre-snap motion for this offense -- it's a catalyst for efficiency, given the types of run and play-action concepts that define Kyle Shanahan's attack. I think this will be important for whoever is playing QB in 2021, with Samuel on the move on 26.1 percent of snaps last season (the fourth-highest rate among WRs). Samuel's route tree was really interesting in 2020, with 22.7 percent crossing routes, 20.3 go routes and 10.5 hitches -- no other route reached 10 percent. In other words, I'm really excited to see how Samuel evolves with a new passing coordinator -- and quite possibly a new quarterback, depending on Trey Lance's readiness."

Ranking the NFL's Worst-to-First Candidates in 2021

Just a year following the 49ers NFC West Championship season and Super Bowl LIV run, San Francisco closed out 2020 missing the playoffs with a 6-10 record and coming in last in arguably the most competitive division in the league. Looking ahead to 2021, contributing columnist Adam Schein ranked the top contenders to climb from worst-to-first during the upcoming season. Here's what he had to say about the 49ers:

"Just how hard is this exercise this year? Well, my top worst-to-first candidate is San Francisco -- a team I'd currently predict to finish third in its division, behind the Rams and Cardinals. That's not a slight to the 49ers, but rather a reflection of the NFC West's status as the best quartet in the NFL bar none. Shoot, I have the Seahawks, who've logged double-digit wins in eight of the past nine seasons, finishing last. This division's going to be spectacularly competitive. And despite my current forecast, there are plenty of reasons to believe San Francisco will win the West.

"First of all, the 49ers get a clean bill of health. No team suffered a worse spate of injuries than San Francisco in 2020. The return of Nick Bosa, in particular, changes everything for the defense. The 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year tore his ACL in Week 2 of last season. In a related note, the Niners finished the season 22nd in sacks. With Bosa, the 49ers front gets its bite back. On the offensive side of the ball, Kyle Shanahan is one of the best minds in the game today, and I love the weaponry at his disposal. Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle provide enticing diversity and dynamism in the passing game, while the committee backfield is full of one-cut runners who excel in Shanahan's system, with rookie third-rounder Trey Sermon fitting the bill. The offensive line -- headlined by Trent Williams, the best left tackle in the NFL right now -- remains stout."

Quick Hits

In the 17th episode of "Inside the Oval" presented by Dignity Health, Angie Nix discussed her journey from an usher to Director of Guest Services, how people can join the Levi's® Stadium events team and why women should speak up when they have a seat at the table.


On Sunday, Kyle Shanahan acted as Grand Marshal for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway kicking off the day's race.

"I am excited and honored to be the Grand Marshal for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 this weekend," said Shanahan. "This will be my first NASCAR event, and I'm thrilled that I get to share this amazing experience with my family. I can't wait to fire up a field of NASCAR stock cars."


According to Pro Football Focus, Deebo Samuel has the second-most yards after catch per reception since 2019 regardless of position, behind only Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. In addition, no other player in the Top 5 has an average depth of target higher than Samuel's 5.4 yards per reception.

YAC Per Reception Since 2019:

  1. Dalvin Cook 10.5
  2. Deebo Samuel 9.8
  3. Austin Ekeler 8.8

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