The San Francisco 49ers are in the most interesting of situations entering Tonight’s National Football League draft. Deebo Samuel is perhaps the best young talent in the entire league, offering versatility from multiple positions with bankable skills at every level.
The 49ers would not have advanced to the NFC Championship Game last January against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams without his season-long contributions. His third season was his career best, and he avoided serious injury while sparking San Francisco’s offense.
No player in the National Football League plays a season injury-free. In 1994, I appeared on the San Francisco 49ers weekly highlight show with runningback Ricky Watters. Sometimes, the 49ers offensive star would wear shorts to the set and his legs were often swelled in spots where he had recently taken a hit.
“Ain’t nottin’,” Ricky would say with a smile.
Samuel is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, and looks to be in a position to get his big pay day. His contributions during the first three years of his professional career are certainly beyond what his rookie contract bargained for. He delivered more than he was paid, and now he wants to cash his worth.
It is a great time for Deebo to flex his muscle, but the 49ers are faced with a whole different equation. While Samuel is coming off his best season, it is worth noting that the average career length for an NFL running back is 5.3 years. Granted, Samuel may blow those standard statistics and contribute for a decade or more at a top level pace. But, is this not the time for San Francisco to cash their chips on their star player?