For the first time in 50 years, the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions. In an entertaining back and forth battle, the San Fransico 49ers came up short falling to the Chiefs 31-20. While the 49ers fell just short, there were some promising signs, including Deebo Samuel’s impressive Super Bowl 54 performance.
Samuel provided an immediate impact for San Fransico’s offense. According to Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric, Deebo earned an OSM grade of 38.63 for the overall season, the second-highest grade among wide receivers this season. With the final touches on his season done, how did Samuel impact the 49ers offense?
Samuel’s impact on San Francisco
Samuel was part of a stacked 2019 draft class which saw a whole group of receivers thrive throughout the regular season in many facets of the game. San Fransico drafted Samuel, the South Carolina Gamecock, in the second round with the 36th pick. In his first season, Samuel hauled in 57 of his 81 targets for 802 yards and three touchdowns. A big play machine, Samuel accounted for 21 plays of 20 yards or more during the 2019 regular season.
While the numbers fail to jump off the page, he had a great rookie campaign. According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, among wide receivers, Samuel was tied for the fifth-highest average separation finding 3.2 yards of space between himself and the defensive back at the time of the catch/incompletion. Additionally, during the 2019 regular season, Samuel ranked second in the NFL for average yards after the catch (YAC) per reception with 8.5 yards.
His ability to find space on the field after the catch is further illustrated by his contributions to the rushing attack. Samuel only carried the ball 14 times throughout the regular season, but those well-timed attempts flourished into 159 yards and three touchdowns. This is all capped off by the fact that besides the touchdown below, the other two of Samuel’s rushing touchdowns came from touches when lined up as a half back.
Deebo Samuel put 'em in a spin cycle.
— NFL (@NFL) December 30, 2019
The 49ers set up a stellar rushing attack led by the running back trio of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman. Adding Samuel into the mix ensures the 49ers’ playmaker is getting some touches. Up until the Super Bowl, San Fransico had not had to lean heavily on its passing offense, as evidenced by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s 77 passing yard performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
Samuel’s Super Bowl 54 performance
Samuel continued to show his dynamic playmaking abilities in the Super Bowl. According to the Offensive Share Metric, Samuel earned a 30.91 OSM grade in the Super Bowl. He faced the second closest average cushion at 4.5 yards while also finding three yards of separation at the time of completion or incompletion on all of his nine targets.
Of those nine targets, Samuel caught five of them for 39 yards. His longest was a 16-yard strike late in the third quarter leading to the 49ers second touchdown of the night. While the 1-yard rush by Mostert would give San Fransico a 20-10 lead, it would also be the last time they would score in Super Bowl 54.
However, if you thought Samuel’s contributions stopped at just receiving yards, you would be mistaken. He set the Super Bowl record for the most rushing yards by a wide receiver with 53 yards on three carries, surpassing the previous record of 45 yards set by former Seattle Seahawks WR Percy Harvin in Super Bowl 48. A large chunk of Samuel’s yards came from this 32-yard scamper on the third play of San Fransico’s opening drive.
— Football Junkie (@5footballjunkie) February 2, 2020
Samuel was easily one of the most impactful players on the field for San Fransico in the Super Bowl and the rookie did as much as he could to help the 49ers try to find a win. He was able to cap a fantastic rookie regular and postseason with an electrifying Super Bowl performance to help make the young receiver more of a household name.