When 49ers star Deebo Samuel made his trade demand on Wednesday, he didn't offer any specific reason for wanting out of San Francisco. In most situations like this, a player makes a trade demand because he's unhappy with his contract, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.
As a matter of fact, ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that the 49ers WANT to pay Samuel, but it's not happening because he's cut off all contract talks with the team.
So why did Samuel make the trade demand? According to multiple reports, it's because he doesn't like the way he's being used in the 49ers offense. During the 2021 season, Samuel had a historical year while playing both wide receiver and running back. Not only did the Pro Bowler haul in 1,405 yards and six touchdowns through the air, but he also added 365 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Thanks to those numbers, Samuel became just the third player in the NFL history to finish a season with at least 1,000 receiving yards along with at least five receiving touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns. With 1,770 scrimmage yards, Samuel accounted for 28% of the 49ers' offensive total, which was the fourth-highest percentage by any player in the NFL.
Despite those historical numbers, it seems that Samuel isn't thrilled with the amount of hits he's been taking as a utility player. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Samuel isn't "comfortable" with the way the 49ers are using him.
"There are some questions and some frustrations from his standpoint about this usage," Rapoport said Wednesday on NFL Network. "He takes a lot of hits, used like a running back, put all over the field and it just does not sound like he's comfortable with the way he's being used."
Samuel's usage at running back went into overdrive starting in Week 10 when he had five carries for 36 yards and a touchdown in a 31-10 win over the Rams. Over the final 11 games of the season, including the playoffs, Samuel lined up in the backfield for just over 21% of San Francisco's offensive snaps, according to NFL.com. To put that into perspective, Samuel had only lined up at running back for 2.1% of the offensive snaps in his career before Week 10 of the 2021 season.
With Samuel spending so much time at running back, his receiving production fell off over the final 11 games of the season. Samuel caught five or more passes in seven of San Francisco's first eight games in 2021. However, in the final eight games he played in last year, including the playoffs, Samuel only caught five or more passes in two of them.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media has reported that Samuel's preference is to dump his running back role so he can focus on just being a receiver.
"Deebo Samuel wants to be a receiver and not a receiver-slash-running back," Pelissero said in an interview with Rich Eisen. "His rushing attempts were significantly up last season from where they've been in the past. We all know that he's a really, really physical player, but there probably are some concerns here about longevity."
Former NFL player Su'a Cravens made the same point about longevity in a tweet about Samuels and the point is that the 49ers star isn't going to last much longer in the NFL if he keeps taking a beating at two positions.
Deebo knows there’s zero longevity in how he played last year. I’m surprised Percy Harvin did it for so long before he started suffering injuries. No way Deebo can keep taking that beating regardless of how versatile he is. Smart move on his part, fans not gone like it though. https://t.co/8ORnqTBZ3n— Su’a Cravens (@iammsuzy) April 21, 2022
Basically, it seems like Samuel wants to cut down on the amount of hits he's taking.
Samuel's usage probably isn't the only reason he wants out of San Francisco, but at this point, it does seem to be the main one. Pro Football talk has also speculated that it's possible that Samuel just wants to be closer to home. The 26-year-old went to high school and college in South Carolina.
Whatever the reason is, the 49ers star hasn't felt the need to reveal it just yet. Samuel has kept pretty quiet since his trade demands went public on Wednesday, but he did do two notable things on Twitter over the past 24 hours.
The first one came when he "Liked" a tweet that said he would look great in a Cowboys uniform (He later unliked the tweet so that it wouldn't show up in his profile anymore).
Deebo Samuel’s most recently liked tweet is about how he would look awesome wearing a Dallas Cowboys helmet.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) April 20, 2022
(h/t @godmanblasta) pic.twitter.com/VKdsDJg2GS
Samuel also sent out a tweet of his own that he later deleted.
"Reporters jobs is to make stories only people know the truth about situation is 49ers, [my agent Tory Dandy], and Deebo Samuel," the 49ers star wrote.
You can see the tweet below.
Now deebo deleted this tweet. Man trade this guy. This shit is way too much drama pic.twitter.com/04AJqPTSey— Derrick (@49ers_battlerap) April 20, 2022
The problem for the 49ers is that it's not going to be easy to negotiate with a player who doesn't want to play for your team. It's also going to be difficult to negotiate with a player when you're not exactly sure what his role will be going forward.
Just over a month ago, Samuel told 49ers fans that he wasn't going anywhere, but now, it seems that something has changed his mind over the past six weeks.
#Faithful— Deebo (@19problemz) March 10, 2022
I train in Miami that’s why I asked for a realtor down there I’m not going nowhere……. Calm down
A trade might end up being the best move for all parties and since the possibility is now on the table, we made a list of possible landing spots for Samuel and you can check it out by clicking here.