SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Two nights into the 2022 NFL draft, wide receiver Deebo Samuel is still a member of the San Francisco 49ers. If things turn out how the Niners hope, that will remain the case well into the future.
After Samuel told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington about his trade request public last week, this week’s draft became a sort of soft deadline for a deal to get done.
Despite that request, San Francisco general manager John Lynch said Monday he could not imagine a scenario in which he would trade Samuel. On Thursday, the Niners received interest in a deal but nothing stretched Lynch or coach Kyle Shanahan’s imagination to the point where a deal became a reality.
“You’ll consider anything,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got a responsibility to help your organization the most you can but there’s no player like Deebo. It’s hard to see how that helps your organization. So, you try to look into all the aspects of it and what people are willing to do and nothing was even remotely close that we thought it would be fair for the Niners.”
Multiple reports indicated the New York Jets were the team that made the biggest push to acquire Samuel in a deal that would have included the No. 10 overall pick but also would have involved a pick swap. The Niners declined those overtures and the Jets ended up using that selection on Ohio State wideout Garrett Wilson.
On Friday night, Shanahan addressed the situation for the first time publicly. He acknowledged he was “real surprised” and “disappointed a little bit” by Samuel’s trade request but he also pointed out that in scenarios involving contracts, these things tend to happen.
Like Lynch earlier in the week, Shanahan declined to get into specifics of what spurred Samuel’s trade request, noting only that there “is a lot of things that play into it.”
With Samuel remaining on the roster through the draft, Lynch and Shanahan were optimistic but not certain that the team and its star receiver/running back can find common ground.
“There’s certain things that everyone is trying to get and trying to do and then you see what you can do and you work from it from there,” Shanahan said. “You can work out anything. We’ll see, hopefully when this is all said and done, we’ll get the best thing for the Niners and the best thing for Deebo and hopefully that’s the same thing because we’d love to keep going how we’ve been. But we know that’s in front of us right now.”
The past two nights have brought a couple of developments that could help make amends with Samuel. On Thursday night, the Tennessee Titans traded receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles with the Eagles promptly signing Brown to a reported four-year, $100 million extension that includes $57 million in guarantees.
Brown is represented by agent Tory Dandy, who also represents Samuel. If nothing else, that contract could serve as a sort of benchmark from which the Niners and Samuel could work.
“I think all these situations are unique,” Lynch said. “You’re obviously aware of what’s going on around the league but we were focused on our situation. We tried to do what was right there. We believe we did and we believe that we can find a way through this and it will all be good. So, we’re encouraged about that.”
The Niners made no picks Thursday but made three Friday, including the addition of another running back (LSU’s Tyrion Price-Davis) and a receiver (SMU’s Danny Gray) in the third round. Both choices filled needs but could also be seen as a means to help lighten the load on Samuel, who accounted for 28% of the Niners’ yards from scrimmage in 2021, fourth most by any player in the league.
“I think they both can (help with that),” Shanahan said. “But we felt that we needed another running back. We definitely thought that we would love to add a speed receiver. There’s lots of ways the draft could have gone but right there at those picks in the third round, we definitely thought it was best for our team.”