Deebo Samuel said that he was “awful” in 2022. Will he still be around for the start of 2023?
That was the question posed to ESPN 49ers beat writer Nick Wagoner on KNBR Wednesday. With Brandon Aiyuk looking like he’s making the leap to superstardom, and Samuel costing the 49ers $71 million over the next three years, cutting bait if he doesn’t play at an elite level could cross the minds of SF’s brass. However, Wagoner believes that it won’t be a possibility until next offseason.
“You can’t rule it out guys, it is possible,” Wagoner told Murph & Mac. “It would have been very difficult to do this offseason. There was almost no chance this was going to happen. Also, remember the 49ers are operating in the window right here where they think they can win a Super Bowl. So they’re not going to try to move off of any of their star players they’ve built this nucleus around to win a Super Bowl
“But I think next year the conversation becomes more interesting. Aiyuk — really to me guys, and I’m not trying to take away too much from these OTAs — he’s probably been the best player on the field that we’ve seen. I think he’s in a position where he’s going to get a big contract. Now, next offseason if you do a contract with Aiyuk, theoretically you could structure it where his first year cap hit is pretty low, and you could keep both of them.”
After an MVP caliber season, Samuel’s numbers took a serious hit last year, with just 632 yards receiving, less than half of what he gained in 2021. Aiyuk, meanwhile, led the team with 1015 yards receiving and 78 catches.
“Next year, possibly, but in the next two years they’re going to have to make some tougher decisions at that position,” Wagoner concluded. “But if Deebo goes out and plays great and they win a Super Bowl, then they probably try and figure out a way that they can extend that a little bit more. Even if he doesn’t, you’ve gotten what you want out of the nucleus, it’s a little bit easier to make those decisions knowing you’ve got a Super Bowl ring in your pocket.”