Intensity around the NFL will ramp up this week as mandatory minicamp gets underway, and it appears Deebo Samuel might be changing course in the ongoing contract dispute with the San Francisco 49ers. Samuel was willfully absent from voluntary OTAs, in an offseason headlined by his demand for a trade that was wholly ignored by the club -- general manager John Lynch making it clear they had with such a valuable piece of their offense.
Now facing fines that could tally upward of $100,000 should he opt to skip the entirety of mandatory minicamp, Samuel is expected to be in attendance as early as Tuesday when things get underway, according to NFL Network and confirmed by CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. This does not necessarily mean the fracture has been healed between the two sides, but it is a step toward a possible long-term resolution, and also puts to bed any initial thoughts of Samuel pursuing a holdout that could stretch into and beyond training camp (a much, much more expensive decision).
"He's too good of a player," Lynch said of Samuel this offseason, according to a transcription by 49ers Web Zone.. "We've got too good of a thing going, and we want to keep that going. That's where I'll leave that."
He then doubled down on what Samuel means to the 49ers offense.
"We're trying really hard with Deebo to work through whatever the issues might be," Lynch added. "I always have really believed that there is a sacredness to those conversations and that they remain private, especially with things like this. I think it's in everyone's best interest we don't get into that. I don't think (the obstacles) are insurmountable.
"I think we can find a way to resolution, and we're hopeful for that because we know what he's been to this organization. Thirty-sixth pick in 2019, and he's been so good on and off the field. Obviously, a tremendous player. ... He makes us better. I think we make him better.
"And we're hopeful that we get everything right and that we're rolling forward."
Samuel earned both his first Pro Bowl nod and All-Pro honor for his efforts in helping to lift the 49ers to the playoffs and, subsequently, victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers -- both on the road -- before narrowly losing in the NFC Championship to the eventual champion: the Los Angeles Rams.
Utilized as both a WR and a RB,, he racked up 1,770 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns, and while that's fantastic for head coach Kyle Shanahan and the club as a whole, it brings into question both Samuel's contract (wideouts get paid exponentially more than running backs) and length of his NFL career (wideouts tend to last exponentially longer than running backs).
He did recently refollow the 49ers on social media after unfollowing and wiping his accounts, if you're one to apply credence to such things, so that is a potential positive in favor of Lynch and Shanahan. That said, he was also recently seen during a night out on the town shaking his head "no" to patrons who insisted he'd be back with the 49ers in 2022.
That answer has apparently changed to "yes".