49ers Deebo Samuel shakes off rookie mistakes, criticisms

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Deebo Samuel initially felt “unreal” starting for the 49ers in Sunday’s season opener – and his NFL debut.

What followed were some positive plays that reinforced why coach Kyle Shanahan started him and why Samuel was the 36th overall draft pick.

Some negative plays, on the other hand, served as learning lessons and a reminder this was his rookie debut.

Through all that, Samuel earned more credibility with his accountability.

“You can be hard on him. He doesn’t make excuses,” Shanahan said. “He works at it. And he definitely takes accountability and doesn’t mind you calling him out in front of the team.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, the 49ers’ second-round draft pick, is thrilled to start his NFL career with this week’s rookie minicamp. (Cam Inman/Bay Area News Group) 

“It’s important to him and he usually responds when you do it.”

Samuel agreed. After three catches for just 17 yards in a 31-17 rout at Tampa Bay, he figures to play a lot and perhaps start again over Dante Pettis when the 49ers (1-0) visit the Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) this Sunday.

“As far as how hard (coaches) get on you, they just want you to become a better player, and I take coaching very well,” Samuel said.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) catches a pass during training camp on the team’s practice field at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, July 27, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

His Game No. 1 highlights: A 14-yard catch on third-and-12 from the 49ers 8-yard line for his first catch, and a two-point conversion reception to cap Sunday’s scoring.

His lowlights: Fumbling at the Bucs’ 25-yard line 10 seconds before halftime to cost the 49ers a shot at points, committing a false-start penalty in the fourth quarter on what Shanahan said was set up as an “explosive” play from the 49ers’ 12-yard line.

“It’s unfortunate, rookie mistakes, and you’ve got to move on from it,” Garoppolo said. “He came back with that two-point conversion. That’s a tough catch. He had a good mindset the whole day. The guy doesn’t sweat, even in Tampa. It’s mind blowing.”

SANTA CLARA, CA – MAY 03: San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel looks on between drills during rookie mini-camp at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on May 3, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

Shanahan said there were other “little plays” outsiders wouldn’t notice, such as blocking assignments.

“In college, you conserve energy a lot for third down, but in the NFL you can’t,” Shanahan said. “That blocking play on first down is just as important as that slant on third down.  They have to learn that on their own and see how many plays are pivotal to the final score.”

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