Player Feature: Deebo Samuel
- His father, Galen, gave him the nickname "Deebo" after the notorious bully in the 1995 movie Friday because he was always taking things away from people as a toddler. In high school, his stepmother, Precious Martin, gave him another nickname, "Sweet Feet," due to his speed.
- Samuel, a South Carolina native, knew he wanted to stay close to home when he went to college. Growing up with eight siblings, family has been a staple in his life. Step-mom, Precious Martin, noted that Deebo and his siblings were always hanging out at the house and encouraging each other to accomplish their goals. One of her goals was to finally get her college degree after struggling in college during her youth. Deebo, like with the other members of his family, was there to support her, often helping her with her homework. "Deebo used to help me a lot with my math courses, he's real good in math," said Martin. "They've seen me working hard as far as working and working hard at school, a lot of sacrifices I had to make and a lot of things I had to miss out with them. I think that plays a major part in my children wanting to further their education." Her goal was accomplished when both she and Deebo graduated from college.
- A retail management major at South Carolina, Samuel is passionate about fashion and his appearances in front of the camera. His fashion flair became something he was known for during his time in Columbia, usually with help from his stepmom, Precious. Martin and Samuel would often video chat while he was away from home so she could help pick out his outfits. "I love it. It makes me feel like he needs me," she said. "I can't get enough of it. I don't know if he does it more for me or more for him." Samuel was even referred to as the best dressed player at SEC Media Day. When asked about Samuel's style, a former coach remarked that his style doesn't always coincide with his personality. "Coming through here he'd always be dressed to the max. It's surprising knowing how humble he is and soft-spoken he is, but it's almost like his clothing is his alter-ego," said Steven Fusaro, who coached Deebo during his time at Chapman High. Following his football career, Samuel hopes to start his own clothing line.
Read more about Deebo Samuel by clicking his bio below.
This month's "Coach's Corner" comes from the 49ers coaching staff
Kyle (Shanahan) spoke to us a little bit about T Trent Williams in motion behind the line and how scary he is when he is back there. Deebo Samuel is a guy who loves to have multiple positions. Trent Williams seems like he's very willing also to step up in different ways. What have you seen from him and how scary is he back there when he is running in motion?
"Have you ever been on the street when a car is driving at you? Yeah, it's scary. It's cool, just because it doesn't exist. I just haven't seen that and there's not a man that moves that fast with that much power. It' cool to watch how big he is and how fast he is, but when he watched that play specifically, his assignment was to set the edge in the d-gap right between the two tight ends. And there was like a sliver this big, and our tight ends and fullbacks have been doing that for a couple years now. And even they were like, 'This is his first rep? Wow.' It tells you a lot about how slow the game is for him and how talented he is at the game of football, not just being athletic. So, it is it was a cool thing to be a part of. That's another reflection of how much our football team likes playing football that when we first practiced that play on whatever it was, Thursday night last week, the defense is watching the scout team defense go, the starting defense is, and we ran the play for the first time and there was probably a buzz for the next five plays. Like, wow. And that's a testament to our football team in general and how they love to play football, which is why we all get excited to play. Not because we absolutely can predict that we're going to win this, that or whatever. No, because we know that, what is better than collectively working through months of uncharted, unforeseen circumstances, you don't know how it's going end, but you do it together. And you know that everyone's fully committed to it. So guess what? On Sunday, the Rams are going to get a best shot. They're one of the best football teams in the world. But how fun is that to just say, 'Okay, let's go give it our best shot. And we feel like we can play and beat anybody.' But guess what? So do the Rams. So it's awesome to be a part of. It's the coolest thing in sports and it's why professional football and specifically, the championship games are so cool."
- Former 49ers Offensive Coordinator and Current Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel
Obviously, you worked with LB Fred Warner a lot in your previous position. When you move over to coordinator and you've got new responsibilities and things, how beneficial has it been for you to have a guy who not only you've worked with, but played the same position you played, who can kind of be your eyes and ears on the field? And how do you think that's grown as the season has gone on?
"It's been great to have Fred. Training him from a rookie to where he is now, I know he knows the position. He knows the ins and outs of the position, he knows the techniques that I'm asking him to do. Now it's just been awesome to work with him. We have a really great relationship, on the field and off the field. So I love Fred. Fred is the guy that really gets our defense going. Without him, we couldn't do a lot of the things we do just because of the communication piece. It's huge, being that guy in the middle and he just does an awesome job of communicating to the front guys, the D-Line and also to the back end guys. He ties everything together. He ties everyone together, so without him we wouldn't be in this position we're in now, if it wasn't for Fred."
- Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans
You and Richard Hightower were on the Texans way back in the day. I think he was just a coaching assistant, maybe at the time. What do you remember about him back then and where you guys both are now? Do you ever trade stories from back in the day?
"Yeah, with me and coach Hightower, I think we came into the league together at the same time, he was helping, a defensive assistant there. A story about coach Hightower, back then we didn't have the communication on defense at the time, so all our calls had to be hand signaled in. So I remember me and coach Hightower, we sat next to each other in the meetings and we came up with all of the defensive signals together. So it's just so cool to fast forward from 2006 to here now, and to see where he is and just his growth as a coach and just his leadership style, the way he's able to lead our guys, it's phenomenal to watch him work. Just the energy that he brings every day. I'm so happy for him. It is really cool to see where he is now. And he's just a tremendous coach and I'm happy that we have him here with the Niners, because he's doing an excellent job for us."
- Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans
Can you touch on just how impressive K Robbie Gould is in the postseason and just how he kind of locks in mentally differently?
"Yeah, I've been really pleased with the trajectory of the unit, the field goal unit and really the whole special teams unit this last month. We feel like we're on a good trajectory right now. We had a couple bumps in the road last game, but nothing major to where you feel down about what the guys have done. These guys are busting their tail and Tabor Pepper's snapping the ball really well. Mitch Wishnowsky has been holding well. Heck (FB Kyle Juszczyk) Juice got in there and held when he needed to. And Robbie is just a consummate pro. I mean, to be so locked in, I could have told you that he was going to do what he did in the LA game by the way he looked at us the night before that game and the way he was all week. And he punted when we needed him to, he's kicked a couple 50-yard field goals, winning that game by six points the other day in Dallas, that was phenomenal by him. He's been kicking off really well with good direction. His mindset in the way he's locked in with good direction, good hang time, been getting some good key contributions from guys like River Cracraft, Mark, Jeff Wilson Jr. helped out a ton in that area. Charlie Woerner has helped out a ton in that area. Curtis Robinson made, these guys have been making some good plays, good tackles inside the 20 yard line, inside the 21 yard line. And a lot of that has to do with Robbie's mindset and his focus and his direction and his location on his kicks. Usually December and January are Robbie Gould's month. His birthday's in December, so he's locked and loaded. And I can tell you what, he was fired up in meetings today. So I can't wait to see him later on."
- Former 49ers Special Teams Coordinator, Current Chicago Bears Special Teams Coordinator Richard Hightower
WON of Us: Amber
For Amber and family, the 49ers are how they stay connected to one another and introduce more fun into their daily lives.
About 15 years ago is when I'd say I really started taking my fandom to the level that it is now. We were going to games at Candlestick. It started as just trips to San Francisco and we'd go to a 49ers game every once in a while. It turned into going to a preseason game each year and now we make sure to do a preseason and regular season game annually. But the first trip that really brought me in as a true fan was when I took my now husband to a game at Candlestick. My family had known Mike Iupati, so we asked if there was anything he could do to enhance our experience. He got us field passes and we had the opportunity to tailgate with the players after the game. It was an experience that I will never forget!
What do you love about WON?
When I first started looking into WON, it was a few years before the pandemic, and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to balance it all since my job and my boys keep me pretty busy. But the more I looked into it, the more I was intrigued. I love that the organization has a club specifically for it's female fanbase! Not only is it very cool, but the women are so great. It's such a diverse group of women and that is my favorite part. Different ages, races, orientations, backgrounds, and a variety of 49ers experiences. I remember in college, there were so many groups that want you to join but they were all just one type of person but with WON, everyone is so unique, and I love that! I haven't been to an in-person event yet, but I loved all of the virtual events and my boys love the Kids Club too!
Was there one inspirational moment in team history that confirmed your 49ers fandom?
There are so many great moments in 49ers history and even more great players. But if I had to choose one moment that truly inspires me it would be how George Kittle addressed the adversity and heartache of the Super Bowl LIV loss. Kittle said, "I will be back here, and I will be back with a vengeance, you will not get the best of me. No sir." In the face of defeat, he didn't let it consume him. Instead, he thought about what his next goal was and began speaking it into existence. It not only taught me a lesson but allowed me to teach my boys a lesson. Life has difficult moments but when you experience them, you don't give up. You start working toward what you want next.
Get to know WON member Amber.
What 49ers tradition or superstition do you/your family have?
I take my husband to a preseason game every year and now we are able to take the boys. My husband and I make sure to go to one regular season game each year as well. When we do, we always stay near the stadium, and it happens to be the team hotel. Each time, we'll stay in the lobby for hours chatting and meeting other Faithful. Every once in a while, we'll see someone from the team, and I love to see my husband light up like a kid. It's one my favorite things about our relationship.
What impact has the 49ers had on your life?
The 49ers have brought my family closer together. The Niners continue to reignite the honeymoon phase of my life with my husband and with my kids. We had the Niners before we had each other and now we get to experience the 49ers all together. One of my favorite things at each home game is when they highlight public service officials and hometown heroes. But more than anything, they bring fun into our lives. Joy of watching the game and making up great memories like creating the best touchdown celebrations at home with the boys to decide who gets to pick dessert that night.
Women of the 49ers Front Office: Laura Johnson
This Month in 49ers History
Feb. 2, 1997
The 1996 NFL Pro Bowl game was held at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium. Four San Francisco 49ers were selected to play for the NFC squad. Jerry Rice, who posted 108 receptions to lead the NFL that season, earned Pro Bowl recognition along with quarterback Steve Young, defensive tackle Bryant Young and safety Merton Hanks.