Deebo Samuel signed a lucrative $71.5 million extension last offseason, only to produce his worst numbers since an injury-riddled 2020 season. Now, the 49ers' star wide receiver is admitting the drama that led to his contract contributed to his decline.
Held to fewer than 650 receiving yards in just 12 starts after topping 1,700 scrimmage yards the year prior, Samuel believes he was "awful" in 2022, according to The Athletic, and that his contract negotiations with San Francisco put him "behind the 8-ball" in preparations for the season.
Though Samuel reported to mandatory minicamp and training camp while seeking a new deal last summer, he did not partake in any on-field team drills until after inking his extension. Prior to landing the deal, which runs through 2025, Samuelfrom the 49ers, unhappy with both his contract and role within coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.
Ankle and hamstring injuries then cost him five games in 2022, and he wasn't nearly as efficient as fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk.
"Just going through the tape, it was, 'Look how sluggish and, like, how bad you look on tape,'" Samuel said of himself, per The Athletic. "Like I said, what happened last offseason kind of played a big role in that. I'll never put nothing on tape like that again."
Samuel has since been limited to mostly individual drills at 49ers organized team activities (OTAs), according to reports, but expects to be at full speed once training camp begins in July.